With clock ticking Knicks and Carmelo moving closer to divorce

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Knicks GM Scott Perry talking about Carmelo Anthony. (Sept. 22, 2017)

Give Scott Perry and Steve Mills credit.

They spent more than a half hour Friday morning fielding questions about Carmelo Anthony, his strange status in the limbo that is Madison Square Garden and the awkward situation that awaits Monday if he is still on the team. And they, along with Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek, spoke glowingly of Anthony’s professionalism, about their efforts to broker a peace after 18 months of animosity between Anthony and the organization, mostly orchestrated by the former team president Phil Jackson.

It was the smart thing to do, just as pulling back from a giveaway of Anthony, still the best player on the roster, was wise. There was — and still is — the possibility that Anthony will be on the stage Monday as a member of the Knicks. Diminishing his value, wherever he would be, was just dumb and was business as usual for the last three years in New York.

But as Perry danced through the questions adeptly, I asked him simply — if you want to avoid the distraction, can you just say now that Anthony is off the trade market until at least the trade deadline in February? 

“I think in our position you always keep an open mind,” Perry countered. “Part of my job is to help this team get better in any way that we can. So we’re going to continue to do that on a daily basis, whether its entertaining calls or obviously internal development is going to be important for us. Other than that, I really can’t comment any further on it other than my job is to help this team get better in any way that we can, in any of the means that are available to us.”

He knew then what we didn’t — that Anthony had already expanded his list of potential trading partners, the teams that he would waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a deal with, from just Houston to include Cleveland and Oklahoma City, with Portland a possibility, too. The New York Daily News first reported the expansion of potential landing spots late Friday and an NBA source confirmed that Anthony has opened up the list to try to end this deadlock.

That doesn’t mean a deal is done — or will be done. It’s still a tough move for the Knicks to make, but certainly easier than it was all summer. USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt and Sam Amick reported that the Cavs won’t include the Nets’ first rounder they acquired from Boston, which means that the Knicks will find themselves in the same scenario they have been in all summer — playing chicken with other teams who believe they don’t want to go through another season of will they or won’t they dysfunction.

“Look, Carmelo’s going to be back here,” Perry said. “Carmelo has always been a professional. That’s one thing I’ve always respected about him. I think he can set a good example for the young players. He’s been a 10-time All-Star. If he’s back here with the New York Knicks, we expect him to be the professional he’s always exemplified throughout his career and move forward with him.

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“The uncertainty that centered around it… let me take you back when I first got here within a couple of weeks of the time that I came here I went down to Florida to visit with Carmelo. We had a very good meeting, very respectful. He expressed to me his sentiments as did I. And we both understood at that time there would definitely be a possibility that he could be back here and we respect each other well enough that if that was the case that we’re going to move forward and be the professionals that we both are.”

Just as the Rockets deal faltered because the Knicks didn’t want to take the one piece that made salary match sense — Ryan Anderson — they will have similar decisions to make with the Cavs or Thunder. If Kevin Love isn’t in a deal the only salaries that could come close to reaching the approximately $22 million that is required would include Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith or Iman Shumpert. Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver and Channing Frye are all in the $7 million range. The Thunder similarity would have to include Enes Kanter or Andre Roberson to begin to put a package together, but have already dealt out their 2018 and 2020 first-round picks. 

Portland, if Anthony will okay a deal there, has the best assets, with all of its first-round picks and players like Moe Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Al-Farouq Aminu and Noah Vonleh behind their star duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, who both recruited Anthony hard this summer. 

The key, like all summer, could be involving a third team in a deal, a possibility that opens up as Anthony expands his list.

And if not?

“I think Carmelo is going to be fine with our team and I think the chemistry of our team is going to be fine,” Mills said. “Players understand that this is the NBA and they understand your name is thrown around in trade discussions from time to time but like Scott said, Carmelo is a pro. We all went down and saw Carmelo numerous times this summer. We’ve been in communication with him. Scott, as he said, has gone down and has met with him. So we feel he is going to come into our locker room, we’re going to do everything we can to bring this team together. Let them know this is a new group here and we will interact with them in a really positive way and do everything we can to bring the group together.”

Email: popper@northjersey.com

Source : http://www.northjersey.com/story/sports/nba/knicks/2017/09/23/clock-ticking-knicks-and-carmelo-moving-closer-divorce/696153001/

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