INDIANAPOLIS — On the same night the Knicks clinched their seventh consecutive losing season, the main star on their last winning team said Leon Rose will change things. All he needs is time.
Rose, a longtime player agent, is expected to take over as the Knicks' president of basketball operations in the coming days. Carmelo Anthony, one of Rose’s clients, believes the Knicks are in good hands.
“It’s an exciting time for the New York Knicks,” Anthony told Newsday after the Blazers lost to the Pacers on Thursday night. “It’s an exciting time.”
Anthony speaks to Rose frequently, but he said he had no idea he was even a candidate to run the Knicks. Rose is following in the footsteps of Warriors general manager Bob Myers and Lakers vice president and GM Rob Pelinka, who left their jobs as agents to run a basketball department.
“I love it,” Anthony said. “I didn’t understand it at first because it happened so fast. When you’re somebody in that position, that’s the top of the mountain for you. That’s becoming the trend now in the NBA. I think it’s a great situation for him.”
It also could be a great situation for the 35-year-old Anthony.
The 12-time All-Star is enjoying this season with the Blazers after going more than one calendar year without playing in the NBA. Anthony believed he was being blackballed when no team was interested in signing him, and he was ready to hang up his sneakers. But he said Rose kept pushing to find Anthony a job. The Blazers signed Anthony in November. He’s averaging 15.5 points in 44 games.
With Rose taking over, there have been rumblings about Anthony ending his career with the Knicks. Anthony, who said he wants to play next season, wouldn’t rule out a return to New York, and said the Knicks and Madison Square Garden will always be special to him.
“It’s hard to say because I don’t know what that situation is going to be,” Anthony said. “The easiest thing to say is, ‘His agent is there, he’s coming back.’ Until I sit down and see the whole plan, I don’t know.
“Me and him, we talk multiple times a week. That’s not something we even discuss. I still think it’s still a shock for everybody. When the offseason comes, I got to be careful [what I say] now because it’s tampering.”
One thing Anthony did say is that Rose, who has represented Allen Iverson and LeBron James, is built for this job and the huge undertaking of turning the Knicks from perennial losers into a playoff team.
"Player relations, he’s very big on that,” Anthony said. “Deal-making, very big on that. Communicating. Knowing personnel. He’s been in this game for a long time. He’s represented the best of the best in this game. He knows. He’s made deals. That’s just what he does. He’s good at running his organization and his own business.
“If I knew him the way I think I know him, he’s going to take his time slow walking as far as right now. He’s going to get in there, he’s going to feel everything out, he’s going to talk to people. He’s going to get his feet wet. In the offseason is where he’s going to get it going.”