LAS VEGAS — LeBron James is going home, but Carmelo Anthony hasn’t announced that he is staying home yet.
The Knicks remain optimistic that Anthony will re-sign, according to a league source. But another day went by with no word from him on his decision.
James revealed that he is leaving Miami and returning to Cleveland in an essay on Sports Illustrated.com. Anthony could be waiting to announce his decision because he wants to do it his way, and on a day when he would be able to steal the headlines.
Anthony’s silence has led to speculation that the Bulls are alive for him, but the Knicks don’t seem to be sweating. They believe they’ve done enough to convince him to return.
“You always have to be optimistic and remain positive as long as you have done everything you possibly can do,” coach Derek Fisher said Friday. “I think everyone from our perspective expressed directly and indirectly about how we feel about having Carmelo back here and what that would mean.
“He’s an adult. He’s allowed to make decisions that he feels like are best for him and his family. Whatever decision that is, we’ll respect it and we’ll continue to do what the Knicks have to do. Hopefully we’ll hear something soon so we can move forward in terms of our business.”
Anthony forced a trade to the Knicks in February 2011 and hasn’t given any indication that he wants to leave New York. The Knicks have offered him a maximum five-year, $129-million contract. The Bulls can give Anthony only four years and $96 million if the Knicks agree to a sign-and-trade involving Carlos Boozer and other expiring or non-guaranteed deals.
James’ decision to join the Cavaliers makes the Eastern Conference a little more open. With Anthony, the Bulls would be a favorite to come out of the East, but Fisher believes that with him, the Knicks would be contenders.
“I don’t know if it’s just about LeBron going to Cleveland,” he said. “I’ve always had the belief before even taking this job that we could have a chance to compete in the Eastern Conference.”
Team president Phil Jackson — who said Thursday that he expects a positive outcome for the Knicks in the Anthony sweepstakes, and soon — left the gym without addressing questions about James or Anthony. He said he would talk about it another time.
The Knicks hope to be in the hunt for Pau Gasol, but reports indicated that the Bulls and Spurs are the frontrunners for him. The Bulls are expected to up their pursuit and perhaps their offer to Gasol if Anthony picks the Knicks.
“It’s a decision that Carmelo has earned to become a free agent and decide what’s best for you and your family and your professional goals,” Fisher said. “We’ve expressed how excited we’d be to have him back. Until that happens, we just have to keep on focusing on what we can control.”