NEW ORLEANS — Carmelo Anthony said his first priority is to re-sign with the New York Knicks. But free agency remains an option if he’s not convinced they’re championship contenders.

‘‘That’s my first priority — to stay,’’ Anthony told reporters Friday. ‘‘Let’s figure it out together, what we have to do. Just because I said I want to be a free agent . . . my priority is not to leave. I’ve never been a guy to leave a situation when it’s not going well. It’s not my personality.’’

The catch is that Anthony wants to be assured the Knicks are heading in the right direction. They’re 20-32 at the All-Star break and in 10th place in the Eastern Conference — 21/2 games behind the eighth-place Charlotte Bobcats.

‘‘My concern is to be able to compete on a high level — a championship level — in this last stretch of my career,’’ Anthony said.

Anthony said he plans to talk to management at the end of the season to see where both sides stand before considering free agency.

‘‘That . . . is the time where everything has to be laid out on the table from both parties,’’ he said. ‘‘If it’s something we can grow with, build on and compete at the highest level, then we [can do something]. If that’s not the plan, then we’ve got to talk about something else.’’

Paul pulling for D-Rose

Will Derrick Rose ever be the same? ‘‘I think so, and I hope so,’’ Clippers seven-time All-Star guard Chris Paul said. ‘‘I hope he is as good as he was because even though we’re the same position, fierce competitors, you always want to play against the best. And he’s definitely one of the best.’’

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkPotash