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SportsColumnistsAl Iannazzone

Former GM: Losing Carmelo Anthony would help Knicks

Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks looks on after

Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks looks on after a basket against the Utah Jazz at Madison Square Garden on Friday, March 7, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Knicks hope to re-sign Carmelo Anthony this summer. But if he were to leave all that extra money on the table to go to the Bulls or another team, it could be a blessing in disguise for the Knicks, according to a former NBA general manager.

"I really think if Carmelo left them, he may be doing them a favor,'' said the ex-GM, who has no ties to the Knicks. "They probably don't see it that way. But in the long run, it's probably doing them a favor.''

The logic is that it would give the Knicks a chance to rebuild. They'll have a boatload of cap space in the summer of 2015 -- when Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani are scheduled to come off the books and Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge could hit the open market -- and a first-round draft pick.

The likely result would be another lean season in 2014-15, but the source -- who has rebuilt teams before -- thinks it could turn around quickly. "New York is the greatest city in the world and the Garden is the best place to play basketball,'' he said. "Guys want to go to play in New York. It's going to hurt for a little bit. But if you have cap space, it's not going to be that hard to get a good player to come to New York.''

The Knicks have gone this route before. They endured some rough years when they were clearing the money they used to sign Stoudemire and collecting the assets to acquire Anthony.

If they choose that path for one year, the ex-GM said their "splash'' this offseason could be trying to hire Phil Jackson to run the basketball department, or signing a high-profile coach such as Billy Donovan or John Calipari.

But Anthony might take the money and re-sign with the hope that the Knicks can become a contender quickly. If so, the former executive said the Knicks shouldn't take back big contracts in any trades unless they're part of a package for a proven star. Otherwise, they should sign players to one-year deals or acquire players on an expiring pact so they don't hurt their flexibility for 2015.

"They need to get complementary players,'' he said, adding of Anthony: "He's 'The Man.' Get those guys that the Sixers got when they had [Allen Iverson] and put guys around him that will play hard, defend, rebound the ball and can hit an open jump shot.''

And then gear up for next summer.

The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Knicks, Madison Square Garden and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.>br>

Chandler's future

If the Knicks come back with essentially the same roster, Tyson Chandler isn't sure he wants to return. He said he would have a decision to make.

Really, it's up to the Knicks. Chandler, who left the Mavericks after winning a championship in 2011 and signed with the Knicks, is under contract for next season.

"At some point I'm going to have to evaluate my future and what I want to do,'' Chandler said recently. "I feel like I'm in the prime of my career. I have a lot of years left. Those are all things that have to be evaluated.''

Despite his rebounding prowess of late, Chandler, who suffered a broken leg in November, isn't moving as well on defense or protecting the paint the way he did in past years. But he would be an attractive asset in a trade if the Knicks decided to move him.

Getting defensive

Bobcats forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was assigned to Carmelo Anthony the night Anthony scored a Knicks-record 62 points. Then he guarded LeBron James when James had 61 this past week.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said Kidd-Gilchrist was following the defensive game plan on James and that he, not Kidd-Gilchrist, should be blamed. But Kidd-Gilchrist got tired of hearing about it and held Pacers all-star Paul George to two points and 0-for-9 shooting in Charlotte's rout in Indiana on Wednesday. "The whole Melo thing, the whole LeBron thing. I was fired up for this,'' Kidd-Gilchrist said. "I was locked in.''

L.A. story

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni made it sound unlikely that Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash will return this season. They have played six and 10 games, respectively. Nash, who has recurring nerve damage in his back, may have played his last game as a Laker.

Nash has one more year at $9.7 million on his contract, and he told the Los Angeles Times he wants to play next season. The Lakers have until Sept. 1 to waive Nash through the "stretch provision'' -- his salary is spread out on the cap over three years.

It's been a rough season for the Lakers, who suffered a franchise-worst 48-point loss to the Clippers on Thursday night. But at least the Lakers should have a high lottery pick in a top-heavy draft.

Fast breaks

- Bulls big man Joakim Noah's 14 assists against the Knicks last Sunday were the most by a center since Sam Lacey had 14 on Dec. 6, 1978.

- Russell Westbrook's triple-double in 21 minutes Tuesday against the 76ers was the second-fastest recorded in NBA history. In 1955, Jim Tucker registered one in 17 minutes for the Syracuse Nationals against the Knicks.

- The Spurs' Way: San Antonio had 39 assists on 43 baskets Tuesday against Cleveland and set an NBA record when all 13 Spurs who played had at least one assist.

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