Soon-to-be free agent superstar Carmelo Anthony is starting his summer vacation early for the first time in his 11-year NBA career. Melo doesn’t want to ever miss the Playoffs again, and for him to sign on the dotted line with the New York Knicks, they better show him a winning plan (in addition to a five-year, $129.1 million offer to stay, nearly $33 million more than any other team.) Per the NY Daily News:

“I want to come back. But I also want to win,” said Anthony, wearing a red “NY” hat as he addressed the media at the team’s practice facility in Greenburgh. “Me wanting to be here, if we can put ourselves in position to at least compete at a high level over the course of whatever — five years — the contract would be, then I’m willing to stay here and I’m willing to ride or die for New York.”

Anthony, who missed the final two games of the season with a small non-surgical tear in the labrum of his right shoulder, revealed in training camp that he plans to opt out of the final season of his contract to test free agency. But he also dismissed a question about whether he has considered not opting out and instead becoming a free agent after next season, saying, “I’ve looked at every area or thought about every situation. But I think right now is the best time for me to” opt out.

“You know, 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,” Anthony added. “At this very moment, today and then next week, it’s really going to be hard for me to even think about anything else besides just kind of recapping this season.

“For me, it’s embarrassing. I can’t even put that into words. I can’t even describe the feeling —the last couple of nights just staying up all night trying to figure out what happened, what went wrong.”

As for his exit meeting earlier Thursday with new team president Phil Jackson, Anthony admitted he gleaned “some insight” but “didn’t really get into any specifics” concerning the Zen Master’s immediate plan to reverse the franchise’s course following a 37-45 season that resulted in the Knicks’ first playoff miss since 2010.

“We didn’t get into details about anything,” Anthony said. “But his knowledge, his wisdom, is something I could sit down and listen to all day long.”

“If I was to go with another team, I’d be taking less money anyway. . . . Let’s be quite frank. At this point in my career, I’m not concerned about the money. The contract will be the contract regardless,” Anthony said. “Without a doubt, at this point in my career it’s about winning. Nothing else even matters. That’s not going to change. That’s still going to be my mind-set, it is my mind-set. You know, that’s going to be my No. 1 thing.”

“Man, I feel like we gave away this year,” Anthony said. “This is a year that we can’t get back. It is what it is, so there’s no need to cry over the spoiled milk. We’ve got to keep moving forward. But we have to build. Let’s be quite frank about it, we have to get better. As a team we have to get better.

“I don’t know if I can afford to wait another season of losing. I really can’t see that picture right now. As far as other teams out there, which quote-unquote team will be the best situation? You never know. Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. This is stuff that I’m going to have to sit down with my family and really figure things out. This is not a decision that’s going to happen overnight. It’s going to take some time.”