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Rumors fly as Knicks seek to move on without Carmelo Anthony

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony reacts in the first

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony reacts in the first half against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, April 6, 2017. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Carmelo Anthony’s estranged wife said the Knicks superstar’s “priority” is to remain close to their son. But ESPN reported that Anthony’s camp has tried to engage Knicks officials in buyout talks, only to be rebuffed.

Team president Phil Jackson has made it clear that the Knicks would like to move on from Anthony. They are rebuilding and going with a youth movement.

The Knicks are expected to continue to seek deals for Anthony even though he has a no-trade clause in his contract and can block any moves. They would like to get assets for their best player rather than buy him out at this point. Anthony has two years and $54 million remaining on his contract.

The Knicks had no comment on the ESPN report. Texts to Anthony’s representatives weren’t immediately returned.

Jackson said last week that the Knicks had been told by Anthony that “he’d just as soon stay” in New York. But Jackson added that he expected there to be further conversations “after the draft and after free agency as teams start reorganizing their rosters. So there’ll be other conversations in the process.”

If Anthony were to be bought out, the Cleveland Cavaliers would be a leading candidate to sign the perennial All-Star. But that would go against what La La Anthony said during an appearance Tuesday on the “Wendy Williams Show.”

Anthony has said his family, and particularly his 10-year-old son Kiyan, would be a big factor in whatever he chooses to do regarding his playing future. La La echoed that Tuesday.

“The most important thing with that is just to stay close to Kiyan,” La La Anthony said. “That’s my priority. That’s his priority. So wherever he ends up, of course we want him to be happy.”

La La, who didn’t rule out reconciling with Carmelo, added that “New York is definitely where I’m at and where I’m staying.”

If that’s the case, the Celtics, Wizards and 76ers could be options for Carmelo Anthony. Boston and Washington at least can offer Anthony a winning situation. But it’s unclear if Anthony is a priority for either team.

The Celtics are expected to go all-in for Gordon Hayward in free agency and have tried to acquire Indiana’s Paul George, who is also being sought by the Cavaliers, Lakers and Wizards.

Anthony was torn this past season. He wanted to remain with the Knicks and try to help turn things around, but he also wants to play for a winning team. The Knicks have missed the playoffs the past four seasons. Anthony’s teams reached the postseason his first 10 years in the league.

Toward the end of last season it appeared the losing and Jackson’s comments about Anthony were weighing on the 33-year-old forward. He sounded like he would welcome a move.

Jackson said in April that the Knicks hadn’t won with Anthony and he “would be better off somewhere else” since they were far from contending. He reiterated that last week.

“We expressed the fact that we’ve done a lot of things to try to put teams together that could win. We haven’t been successful,” Jackson said. “It might be time for him to find an opportunity and go somewhere else. He’s come back and said he’d just as soon stay. We’re trying to start growing from the youth aspect of it.”

Anthony doesn’t fit the Knicks’ plans. They drafted 18-year-old French guard Frank Ntilikina last week as they continue their rebuild. Ntilikina, who will begin practicing with the Knicks’ summer league team Wednesday, joins a roster that features 21-year-old Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez, 23, as its building blocks.

Jackson fielded trade offers for Porzingis before the draft. But many people around the league believe Jackson wasn’t seriously considering moving Porzingis.

New York Sports