By the time Phil Jackson returns from his European vacation, Carmelo Anthony will have officially opted out of his contract, and may or may not have decided whether to chase an NBA championship elsewhere.

The first decision Anthony needs to make is determining whether he wants to re-sign with the Knicks. According to a source, Anthony’s preference is to remain in New York but the All-Star forward is coming to the realization that his best chance to win an NBA championship would be to join another team, most likely the Bulls, Rockets or Heat.

Jackson, who has sent mixed signals regarding Anthony’s impending free agency, met with Anthony on Friday in Los Angeles to sell him on the notion that the Knicks can significantly upgrade their roster next summer when they have the ability to create room under the salary cap. Anthony, however, recently turned 30, and following a season in which he failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time, he is reluctant to spend another year rebuilding.

Joining Dwight Howard and James Harden in Houston would make the Rockets formidable but moving to the deep and talented Western Conference doesn’t necessarily improve one’s chances of reaching the NBA Finals. Staying in the East may be a better option.