GREENBURGH, N.Y. >> When training camp opens, the New York Knicks expect Carmelo Anthony right where he’s been — in their uniform and in their starting lineup.
The Knicks said today they plan for Anthony to report next week after not finding a trade for their All-Star forward.
“When we set out, we said if there was something there that made sense both for him and for the Knicks organization, then we would strongly consider it,” general manager Scott Perry said. “Obviously, we sit here today and that did not happen as of yet.”
It could make for an awkward reunion on Sept. 25, given that former team president Phil Jackson spent much of last season making it clear how much he wanted to trade Anthony. But when Steve Mills was promoted to that spot and hired Perry after the team parted ways with Jackson, they told Anthony there was a chance he would remain in New York because they wouldn’t accept a bad deal.
Yet they aren’t worried about Anthony causing any problems.
“Carmelo’s always been a professional. That’s one thing I’ve always respected about him,” Perry said. “So if he’s back here with the New York Knicks, we expect him to be the professional that he’s always exemplified throughout his career and move forward with him.”
The Knicks want to move forward from their dismal three seasons under Jackson, and they’re doing so by stressing a young core of players such as Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, Tim Hardaway Jr. and first-round pick Frank Ntilikina.
Neither Mills nor Perry mentioned Anthony in recent blog posts, saying today that was because of the uncertainty surrounding Anthony’s status and they’re looking at the team as a building project that could take a few years.
The 33-year-old Anthony has two years left on his contract and is difficult to deal because he has a no-trade clause. He had told the Knicks he would accept trades to Houston or Cleveland, but neither had a package that interested the Knicks since Anthony is still a productive player.
He led them last season with 22.4 points per game even while dealing with the constant distraction of trade talks. Coach Jeff Hornacek said Anthony’s role wouldn’t change and he would remain in the starting lineup.
“So he’s a great player, he still is and he’s going to lend a lot to our team for us (if) we’re assuming he’s back,” Hornacek said.
Anthony’s status with the team wasn’t the only lingering question after last season’s 31-51 finish. Porzingis skipped his exit meeting before returning to Latvia, where he spent the summer playing with his national team. The Knicks said they had been texting with him and had a good relationship with their 7-foot-3 forward. Hornacek has denied reports of friction between the two.
“I think we’re just looking forward to continuing our relationship with KP and helping him grow as a player and grow as a person,” Mills said. “We feel really good about where we are with him.”
Porzingis respects Anthony, and part of his disenchantment with the franchise was likely because of Anthony’s treatment. Perry visited Anthony over the summer in Florida. While he wouldn’t go into specifics of their discussions, he did give his view of Anthony’s mindset.
“What I will say is that Carmelo is a professional,” Perry said. “I know he’s a very prideful guy, and I expect him to be ready to play some very good basketball when he returns.”