Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James will be on the same basketball court Saturday night, but on opposing teams. That’s something both would like to see change in the coming years.
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Right now, two of the NBA’s top players are finishing out their seasons with the teams and cities they chose. They’re dealing with different difficulties and obstacles, although Anthony probably would trade places with James in a heartbeat.
James has been to the NBA Finals the past five years and has the Cavaliers leading the Eastern Conference with a 51-21 record. The Knicks are close to being eliminated from playoff contention for the third straight year.
Yet James seems the more frustrated one lately, and he voiced some of his displeasure after Thursday night’s surprising loss to the Nets in Brooklyn.
“We got to understand how important our process is,” he said. “It’s not always about the wins and losses, it’s how important our process is and to continue to take steps forward and forward and forward, and [Thursday] we took a step backwards. And we can’t afford to do that late in the season like this.”
James is trying to make the Cavaliers realize how sharp they have to be to win a championship. The Cavaliers are the odds-on favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, but they would be prohibitive underdogs if they faced the defending champion Warriors or the Spurs. Losing in the championship round three consecutive years wouldn’t sit well with James.
“I started my postseason mindset a little bit earlier this year, understanding everything we’ve been through this year, both on and off the floor,” he said. “I just want these guys to understand how important this moment is. We have a great opportunity to do something special or at least compete for something special.”
If the Cavaliers don’t win it all, it probably will further the speculation that James will try to form a Super Team with some of his friends.
James has made it an interesting week for the Cavaliers’ organization. First he unfollowed the Cavaliers on Twitter. Then, in a Bleacher Report story, James was quoted as saying he hopes to play with Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade before his career is over.
Anthony didn’t rule it out and said he would “want to go somewhere warm” before adding that it would be when he was close to retirement.
For that to happen in the next couple of years, Anthony would have to waive his no-trade clause. He has been reluctant to do that and lately has given strong indications that he would like to finish what he started with the Knicks. That could depend on what team president Phil Jackson does with the roster and on the bench.
Anthony said interim coach Kurt Rambis should be considered for the job but that the Knicks also should interview other candidates. The two best coaches on the market are Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau. Neither is a friend or ally of Jackson’s or run “a system.”
Anthony has said “the ball’s in their court,” meaning it’s up to management to do what’s needed to make the Knicks a contender. He’s continuing to play hard and trying to lead the Knicks to as many victories as possible.
They won back-to-back games against the Bulls and will try to put together their first three-game winning streak since Jan. 3-6 when they face the Cavaliers on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. Anthony isn’t allowing himself to think the Knicks still would be in the hunt if they played like this more often.
“At this point, it’s kind of hard to be frustrated,” he said. “Just go with the flow now and try to win basketball games. There’s nothing we can do about our situation but try to go out there and still win basketball games.
“It’s not about the teams we’re playing, it’s more about us and how we go out there and still compete despite if we have a chance of making it or not.”
With Laura Albanese