Heat free agent watch: Carmelo Anthony officially opts out of contract with Knicks

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

The Heat are said to be exploring options to sign Melo.

Carmelo Anthony has officially notified the New York Knicks in writing that he will opt out of the contract he signed in 2010 and become an unrestricted free agent.

The Heat are said to be interested in Anthony, a close friend of LeBron James, but would need to renounce the rights to the Big 3 in order to remove their cap holds and then significantly restructure their contracts along with the cooperation of Birdman and Udonis Haslem, who can also opt out of their contracts and become free agents. In short, it would be quite the long shot, as Pat Riley himself addressed on Thursday in his State of the Heat address.

"That's not where we're headed. It's a possibility. But we're not thinking about that today" Riley said, adding that it's a "pipe dream". But in typical Riley fashion, he couldn't leave it at just that. "But everyone thought 2010 was a pipe dream," he added with a laugh.

ESPN notes that if Anthony does switch teams this summer, he would only be the fifth player in NBA history to do so after averaging at least 27 points per game. The fourth player ever to do so was LeBron James. ESPN is also reporting that the Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets are strong suitors in play for the services of Anthony, who Knicks president Phil Jackson had urged not to opt out of the final year of his contract in order to be able to potentially pair him with an All-Star next summer.

With or without a healthy Dwyane Wade, the offensive workload carried by LeBron James throughout the regular season and into the playoffs for the Heat undoubtedly taxed the best player in the world during a fourth trip to the Finals. Anthony, of course, has never been much of a defensive force but did average a career-best 8.1 rebounds per game last season. The All-Star also scored a career-high 62 points earlier this year, which also set a Madison Square Garden and Knicks franchise record, and has earned gold medals along with James in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

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