LAS VEGAS — Carmelo Anthony believes the Knicks had a realistic shot at signing Dwyane Wade during free agency.
Anthony contends it would have taken some maneuvering but that the Knicks would have had Wade if things played out differently, and he had made his decision to leave Miami sooner.
The Knicks had already come to terms with Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings by July 4 and used up most of their cap room by the time Wade agreed to join the Bulls on a two-year, $47.5-million deal three days later.
“There was definitely a chance,” Anthony said after the U.S. men’s Olympic team practiced Wednesday. “We would have had to pull a rabbit out of the hat in the 25th hour. But there was a chance. I think if it was maybe two days earlier we probably would have had D-Wade.”
Anthony is close friends with Wade so there’s a good chance they were talking to each other during that time.
The two vacationed together with LeBron James and Chris Paul last summer. All of them except for Anthony are expected to be free agents next summer, and James has said he would like all four of them to be teammates at some point.
“A Super team?” Anthony said with a smile, and wouldn’t rule it out.
“I don’t know,” he said. “You never know what can happen these days. Everything is different these days. I just want to get through this season first. I want to start this season and enjoy the new Knicks that’s on the team. This is a new era for us. I think it’s going to be exciting for us.”
Stars joining forces is becoming more prevalent. James, Wade and Chris Bosh teamed up in Miami in 2010. Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City earlier this month to sign with the Warriors, who have All-Stars Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
Durant met with six teams in the Hamptons during the first three days of free agency. The Knicks weren’t among them. Their 47-117 record the past two seasons didn’t give them much appeal.
But the Knicks, who started their summer rebuild by acquiring former MVP Derrick Rose, should be better next season. They hope it will get them a seat at the table of some star free agents next summer, including Russell Westbrook.
“There’s no doubt about it, we will be better,” Anthony said. “As far as guys wanting to come, I think guys are starting to see the excitement that’s coming back, the shift that’s coming back.
“I know it’s early. I know it’s the offseason but the excitement that’s coming back to the city, the excitement that’s coming back to us as far as the New York Knicks are starting to be talked about again. I think this year is going to be good and everybody is going to see that. We’ll see what happens from there.”
Earlier in the week, Anthony sounded a little more reserved about his expectations for the upcoming season. He said the Knicks “have a very special team — on paper.” He used the expression “on paper” three different times Monday.
It’s obvious Anthony is looking forward to next season, and trying to end a three-year playoff drought. He will have more proven players around him.
Anthony, however, didn’t want to talk about what offense the Knicks will run under Jeff Hornacek. The Knicks new coach said he will be run some variation of the triangle. When that was mentioned, Anthony said, “I can’t use that word.” He did say he expects the Knicks to play a more up-tempo game, though.
“The way that we’re going to play, the way that we want to play, I think it is best for everybody to be in top notch shape,” Anthony said. “And that’s all I’m going to speak about that.”