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'Melo talks 2011 and NY, but neither can wait

Donnie Walsh hasn't even gotten to see his 2010 Plan to fruition yet and already it's being suggested that he's looking toward 2011. So I asked him if this was true. Are you thinking about the free agents who may be available in 2011?

"No," he said. "Not now."

Three-plus months of speculation and conjecture await between now and when we see what will come of this summer's $30 million spending spree. In the meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets will do all they can to make sure Carmelo Anthony isn't an option for the Knicks in 2011, when it is possible the New York franchise will have enough cap space to make another major contract offer.

A highly-placed source within the Nuggets brain trust told be the team will most certainly work to lock up Carmelo with a contract extension this summer to avoid what the Cavs, Heat, Raptors, Suns and Hawks are about to deal with.

'Melo appears quite happy in Denver and has a championship-caliber foundation there with all-star point guard Chauncey Billups, a terrific coach in George Karl and a franchise with a great fan base and a wealth of money to keep the team competitive.

He, like most of the star players who aren't up this summer, seems amused by the excitement and anticipation of the 2010 free agent class.

"I don't know what's going to happen next year," he said.

His opt-out is in 2011. It leaves $18.5M on the table if he exercises it and he offered no resistence to the belief that he intends to do it when he reminded, "I'm the year after."

Technically, he's really 2012, when the contract officially expires. But he is not only clearly aware of the opt-out, he considers it the end of his deal.

Carmelo was born in New York, though he's hardly a real New Yorker. He's from Baltimore -- West Baltimore, actually, as noted by his "WB" (Warner Bros. logo) tattoo -- so his real hometown team would be the Wizards.

But, of course, the Knicks are New York. And there's also the Garden.

And as Carmelo said, "I don't see why nobody wouldn't want to play here."

If that is the case, the Knicks will get all they need in 2010, which means Carmelo won't need to be an option in 2011.

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* - It is absolutely probable that Raja Bell will be among free agent candidates the Knicks will consider this summer as depth signings (as long as the price is right). But don't expect the Knicks to bring in Bell before the end of this season. In fact, a person with knowledge of the situation said "there is no motivation now" to sign Bell before the end of the season.

First of all, Bell isn't yet healthy to play. Second, there are only 11 games left and the minutes right now belong to young players such as Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens. It wouldn't make any sense at all to bring in a veteran off an injury for five games.


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