Carmelo Anthony wore a red baseball cap with the letters "NY" on the front and talked about wanting to remain a Knick. But Anthony also sounded tormented about not being in the playoffs for the first time in his 11-year career

He called it "embarrassing" and "a failure," and said he wants to play for a contender next season.

That may not be in New York unless new president Phil Jackson can wield some magic with a team that's over the salary cap, has few assets to trade and no draft picks this year.

"I want to come back," Anthony said Thursday afternoon. "But I also want to win. If we can put ourselves in position to at least compete at a high level over the course of whatever the contract would be, then I'm willing to stay here and I'm willing to ride or die for New York.

"I've never once said I wanted to leave. I always said that I wanted to explore my options. I wanted to see what's out there."

If Anthony re-signs with the Knicks in July, he can get a five-year deal for roughly $129 million. He would get about $34 million less if he goes to another team.

But Anthony, who played the last two weeks of the season with a partially torn right labrum, said the money is mostly irrelevant. The 29-year-old All-Star forward said the most important thing is not just making the playoffs, but advancing deep in the postseason -- consistently.

"At this point in my career it's about winning," Anthony said. "Nothing else even matters. That's going to be my No. 1 thing.

"I'm not concerned about the money. The contract will be the contract regardless. I'd like to consider myself financially stable. From that part of it I'm not worried about it. To me it's more of the day-to-day stuff of putting together a situation where I'm able to compete at a high level night in and night out and when it comes down to it having the chance to reach my ultimate goal, which is winning that championship."