New Rockets point guard Chris Paul passed on a question about Carmelo Anthony during his introductory news conference Friday.
Asked about the possibility of playing with Anthony in Houston, Paul said: “Possibility? One step at a time, boss. I don’t know about all that. I’m just trying to get through this press conference. You’re jumping the gun. I don’t know what you’re talking about, boss.”
The Knicks and Rockets reportedly have been engaged in trade talks for Anthony and have several three- and four-team scenarios to try to find a deal that works. There have been challenges in consummating a deal because of the contracts of Anthony and Rockets forward Ryan Anderson.
Anthony, who is due $54 million over the next two seasons, has a no-trade clause and 15-percent trade kicker in his contract. He reportedly would waive the no-trade clause to play for the Rockets or Cavaliers, and he might even be willing to waive the trade kicker to facilitate a deal.
To make room for Anthony, the Rockets need to move Anderson, who will make $61 million over the next three seasons. To this point, the Knicks have not wanted to take back Anderson’s contract. The Rockets and Knicks are looking for a team willing to take Anderson.
The Knicks reportedly have put the Anthony talks on hold since coming to terms with Scott Perry to be their new general manager. It’s possible that they could heat up again as both teams, and Anthony’s camp, have been motivated to get a deal done.
Anthony and Paul are close friends and have always wanted to play together. The Rockets believe teaming them with MVP runner-up James Harden would give the team a chance to challenge the Warriors for an NBA championship.
Earlier in the week, there were definite signs that the Knicks and Rockets were nearing an agreement.
In a recent interview with Paul about whether he would be playing with Anthony in Houston, he replied “Man, sit back and wait.”
The Rockets’ Nene, Anthony’s former teammate in Denver, posted a picture of Anthony in a Rockets uniform on Instagram. Nene wrote, “He will look great [in] this uniform . . . and I can’t wait to get back on Old Time like in Denver with him.” The post later was removed.
Coach Mike D’Antoni also hinted about getting Anthony when he was asked on Wednesday if there was anyone else Houston would add to the roster.
“There’s somebody out there,” D’Antoni said, but he wouldn’t elaborate. Coaches and executives are not allowed to talk about players who are under contract with other teams.
The Rockets already have made one blockbuster deal this summer, acquiring Paul from the Clippers for Sam Dekker, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, DeAndre Liggins, Darrun Hilliard, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Wiltjer, a protected first-round pick and cash. Houston still has the pieces to make another big deal.
The Rockets welcomed Paul to the team Friday, making it “Chris Paul Day” in Houston. They held a rally at the Toyota Center that was open to the fans, and Paul and others addressed the crowd.