Patrick Ewing wants to play three more seasons, even if the New York Knicks don't want him back after his contract expires next June.
"I'd probably like to play two more years after next year. If it's New York, it's New York. If not, it's somewhere else," Ewing told The Associated Press on Wednesday, breaking a long silence over his plans for the future.
Ewing, in the Bahamas for the players' union's annual meeting, has one year remaining on the four-year, $60 million contract extension he signed three years ago.
He is eligible to sign an extension, but the Knicks have not said whether they will offer him one this summer.
Ewing has spent his entire 15-year career with the Knicks, reaching the NBA finals twice (once when he was injured) but never having won a championship. His 15.0 scoring average last season was the lowest of his career.
Knicks management has had a policy in recent years of never letting a coach enter the final year of his contract without giving him an extension, but not so with players.
General manager Scott Layden refuses to discuss anything relating to contracts, and Ewing's agent, David Falk, also begged off the subject Wednesday.
"I'm prepared to do whatever," Ewing said. "I'll let David Falk and the powers that be at the Knicks handle it, and I won't worry myself with it. The only thing I'm worried about is getting better and healthier for next season."
Ewing settled into a reduced offensive role with the Knicks last season before a foot injury knocked him out of Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against Indiana.
Ewing returned in Games 5 and 6, but New York lost both - leading many to wonder whether the Knicks were better off with him or without him.
Ewing also went through a lonely season in the locker room, keeping distant from many of the younger players who have been added to the roster over the past few seasons.
At one point during the season he hinted that he might like to finish his career in Miami, but it seems likely he'll give the Knicks every chance to make him an offer that will allow him to finish his career in New York in 2002-03.
Whether that offer comes this summer, he isn't sure.
"I enjoy it in New York. The team is good to me, the fans have been good to me," Ewing said. "We'll see."
Layden would not comment on Ewing's desire to play three more years or his interest in a two-year contract extension.
"He plays hard, he's important to our team. His skill level has always been very good. He always works on his game, and he's continued to keep the Knicks competitive," said Layden, who gave Ewing a stronger endorsement two days after the Knicks were knocked out of the layoffs.
Madison Square Garden president David Checketts was on vacation and could not be reached for comment.
Layden has been exploring a sign-and-trade deal with Portland for free agent forward Brian Grant, the type of player who could move over to the center position if Ewing got hurt or after Ewing retires.
Layden, who spent part of July trying to convince free agent Grant Hill to come to the Knicks in a sign-and-trade deal, has been discussing trades with the Boston Celtics. Two league sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the AP that a swap of Chris Childs and Andrew Lang for Danny Fortson, Calbert Cheaney and Doug Overton was discussed earlier this month. That deal, however, appears dead.
©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
© 2000 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.