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Basketball: Anthony opts out of Knicks contract

Carmelo Anthony made it official on Monday, opting out of the final season of his New York Knicks contract in order to test the free agent market, his agent said.

NEW YORK: Carmelo Anthony made it official on Monday, opting out of the final season of his New York Knicks contract in order to test the free agent market, his agent said.

"Carmelo loves being a Knick," Leon Rose said. "He loves the city and the fans. At this stage of his career, he just wants to explore his options."

The impending move had been widely reported at the weekend, but the seven-time NBA All-Star had until Monday to exercise the early termination clause in his contract with the Knicks, who were due to pay him $64 million in the final season of the three-year extension he inked after being acquired from the Denver Nuggets in February of 2011.

As a free agent, Anthony can hear offers from other teams starting on July 1. The Knicks will have a chance to match or exceed an offer from any potential suitor.

New team president Phil Jackson had voiced a hope that Anthony would play out the final year of his contract before testing free agency.

Jackson has indicated he'd like to see the star forward back in New York at a less than maximum contract in order to speed up the Knicks' rebuilding effort.

But Anthony, who at 30 has never been a free agent, could be looking for a chance to sign with a title contender.

Anthony expects to draw interest from several teams with championship aspirations, with the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks having been mentioned as possible suitors.

The 30-year-old helped lead the Knicks to a 54-28 record and an appearance in the Eastern Conference semi-finals in 2012-13.

However, the Knicks were unable to build on that success and missed in the 2013-14 season.

Anthony averaged 27.4 points, a career-best 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists over 77 games in 2013-14, finishing second to league Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant in the scoring race.

In three-plus seasons since arriving in New York, Anthony has averaged 26.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

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