GREENBURGH, N.Y. — New team president Steve Mills wouldn’t rule out Carmelo Anthony being with the Knicks in the fall, but he said they will continue to explore trades for him.
Mills said no matter what happens with Anthony, the Knicks will continue to build around their young core. When he was asked if buying out Anthony is an option, he emphatically answered “no.’’
“We’ve been in contact with Carmelo’s representatives, we’ve been in contact with other teams,” Mills said Monday. “Our view is if there’s an opportunity that works for Carmelo and works for us, then we’ll look at some kind of trade. But we also feel that Carmelo could easily be a part of our team next year.
“We’re going to move forward, so maybe with Carmelo or without Carmelo.”
Mills can’t make a more definitive statement because the Knicks are in transition. Now the team they were negotiating with is, too. The Rockets announced Monday that they’re for sale. It’s unclear what impact that will have on Houston’s pursuit of Anthony.
The Knicks held a news conference Monday to introduce new general manager Scott Perry and Mills, the newly promoted president, and discuss their plans. It’s all about the future, not the past.
The Knicks are building around Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Willy Hernangomez and first-round pick Frank Ntilikina. Mills mentioned the Knicks’ version of the core four by name in his opening remarks. The only time Mills uttered Anthony’s name was when a reporter mentioned him.
“We’re going to emphasize pride, work ethic, accountability,” Mills said. “We’re going to emphasize youth, athleticism, teamwork and defense. We’re committed to rebuilding a team and building a team around the young core of players that we have.”
Mills acknowledged that he put a stop to Anthony trade talks while negotiating with Perry. The Knicks were talking to the Rockets and discussing three- and four-team scenarios in an attempt to find a taker for Houston forward Ryan Anderson’s contract, which has three years and $61 million left on it. They now can see if Perry, who brings a new voice and vision, can find a different deal for Anthony and get players he wants in return.
“I felt it was important for us to slow down, regroup as it related to the trade scenarios with Carmelo,” Mills said. “So we made a decision to slow things down, let us regroup and get together and make sure what’s best for the New York Knicks, and at the same time, we’ll do what’s best for Carmelo.”
The Knicks hope to meet with Anthony soon and discuss what will happen if they can’t find a suitable trade. Anthony has two years and $54 million left on his deal. He’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause to play for Houston or Cleveland.
According to reports, Anthony believed he was going to Houston and was excited about playing for a contender and with his pal Chris Paul and James Harden.
Former Knicks president Phil Jackson had publicly and privately made it clear that he didn’t want Anthony back. “I’m not going to look back on what happened with Carmelo and Phil,” Mills said. “What I know is that I’ve been in communication with Carmelo and his team . . . I think we will be a good, developing team if Carmelo is part of the team. We’ll be a good, developing team if he isn’t. We’ll be in constant communication with Car melo and his camp and we’ll come to some resolution that works well for both of us.”
Perry said, “I would obviously second what he’s saying about communication with Carmelo and his camp and look forward to doing that and coming to a resolution that’s going to be mutually beneficial for both.”
Mills said there is no timetable for the matter to be resolved. The Knicks will go forward with their plan with or without Anthony.
“Carmelo’s a great, great basketball player, and if Carmelo is with us, we will continue to develop our young players,” Mills said. “If he’s not here, we’ll continue to develop our young players.”