PORTLAND, Ore. - In a little more than two months, Amar'e Stoudemire has established himself as not only a bona fide franchise player but an MVP candidate. Clearly, the Knicks are his team and he is the face of the franchise. But any suggestion that he would rather not see Carmelo Anthony in a Knicks uniform is ludicrous.
In the summer, Stoudemire talked openly about his intention to join forces with other stars, such as Anthony, in New York. At practice Monday, he was asked if that still is the case. "No question," he said. "Absolutely."
Stoudemire would not directly address Anthony's situation. "I don't know what's going on," he said. "I just hope it works out for the best." But he didn't exactly shoot down the idea of blowing up the roster to bring in another superstar player - although at this point, with the Nets reportedly on the verge of acquiring Anthony in a three-team trade, it might be moot.
"We are in a good groove, but again, I'm not the GM, so I can't really comment on that too much," Stoudemire said. "We are playing well and we're looking to ultimately win a championship sooner or later."
And in a conference dominated by the Celtics, Heat and Magic, he knows one star won't be enough to get it done.
Anthony spoke with reporters in Denver after practice Monday and addressed what he called "speculation" about a blockbuster trade. He said he does not expect anything to happen this week. He was coy when asked if he would sign a three-year, $65-million extension with the Nets, which would be a critical factor in the deal. "I really don't know," he said.
When asked specifically about the Knicks, his believed preferred destination, he suggested that they don't want him.
"New York is playing well right now," he said. "I don't think they're looking at me. They wouldn't want me to come in there and mess what they have up. That's what I've read, so . . . "
The Knicks, who continue their four-game West Coast trip Tuesday night against the Trail Blazers, are keeping close tabs on the apparent blockbuster in the works between the Nuggets, Nets and Pistons but haven't made any aggressive overtures themselves.
Though the Knicks and Nuggets have had dialogue about Anthony, a person with knowledge of the discussions said the Nuggets have not told the Knicks what players they would want in return. Draft picks are a given.
There is a reluctance to break up this roster just for one player - Mike D'Antoni regularly professes a deep adoration for this group - but multiple sources insist that if there were a deal to be made for Anthony, the Knicks would do it.
The Knicks hoped Anthony would refuse to sign an extension with any team and would opt out of his contract so they could sign him without losing significant players. But his camp is pushing him to get an extension now under the current collective-bargaining agreement because the next CBA is likely to be more restrictive. That could cost him millions.
Notes & quotes: Stoudemire said the NBA should review two hard fouls by the Lakers' Ron Artest on Sunday. One involved Artest grabbing a driving Stoudemire by the neck; the other occurred when Artest went for Shawne Williams' throat during a post-whistle altercation. Artest received a technical foul in the second quarter and a flagrant in the third. "Those two plays were not basketball plays," Stoudemire said, "and I think the NBA is going to do a good job of responding to that." . . . D'Antoni is considering going back to Ronny Turiaf as the starting center against Portland. While discussing the need to trade for a starting-quality center, he pointed to Timofey Mozgov and said he should be the answer.
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