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SportsColumnistsAl Iannazzone

Offseason can't be quiet for Knicks

Carmelo Anthony blocks a shot in the second

Carmelo Anthony blocks a shot in the second quarter against the Trail Blazers' Wesley Matthews at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The trade deadline ended up being quiet for the Knicks, but the offseason won't be. It can't be. The biggest star the Knicks have had since Patrick Ewing will be a free agent, and the organization plans to do everything it can to keep Carmelo Anthony.

He already has said he will meet with team officials after the season to discuss which players he wants with him. Then it will be up to the Knicks to go out and get them -- if they can. If they can't, Anthony could leave.

He already has said he would take less than a maximum contract to stay if it helps the Knicks win, and he also would take less to join another team if it helps that team contend for a title.

That could mean several Knicks are in their last 26 games with the team. The same probably will be true for Mike Woodson, who might not be back even though he's signed through next season. The Knicks have enough talent to be in the playoffs, but they entered Saturday 41/2 games out of eighth in the Eastern Conference.

Expect Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert to be offered around the league again. Expect others to be, too.

"You don't know who will be here next year,'' Tyson Chandler said. "I don't know if I'll be here or other guys around the locker room will be here. My focus is just really this year and trying to get this team over the hump.''

The Knicks want a better point guard than Felton, as they proved with all their trade discussions. If Boston put Rajon Rondo on the block, the first call to Danny Ainge could come from the Knicks. If Kyrie Irving doesn't sign an extension in Cleveland, the Knicks will be on the line.

Putting together an enticing package might not be easy, especially given that the Knicks don't have a first-round pick they can trade in the next four drafts. But this summer they will have three valuable assets: the expiring contracts of Amar'e Stoudemire, Chandler and Andrea Bargnani (presuming he picks up his $11.5- million option). It might make sense to hold on to them until the trade deadline because they could have more value then, or to let them walk in 2015 so the Knicks have the money in free agency to pursue Rondo, Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge.

But then they won't be able to make that many changes or bring in the kind of players Anthony would want. So moves have to be made or Anthony, too, could be in his last 26 games as a Knick.

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

Race for MVP

The NBA’s two best players, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, are the leading candidates for this year’s MVP award. Durant is a little ahead but James, the MVP the previous two years, isn’t going to give up his trophy without a fight.
The talk of Durant having a better year seems to be motivating James, who shot 15-for-22 and scored 33 points in the Heat’s blowout win Thursday in Oklahoma City.
Durant wishes everyone would stop comparing the two of them. He was asked on a scale of one-to-10 how tired he is of the comparisons.
“About 25,’’ he said. “It’s every day. You should really focus on how good LeBron James is and the growth I’ve had as a player. You should appreciate that more. Just sit back and enjoy basketball. Not just LeBron and myself, but the other guys in this league. Just enjoy it, man, because it’s here today and gone tomorrow.’’

Saturday Night Live

All-Star Saturday night could use some revamping starting next year, when it will be held in New York.

It would be huge if LeBron James, Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard were to take part in the dunk competition next season under the league’s old format.

The present format of three players working together and “freestyle’’ dunking in the first round wasn’t entertaining or well-received. There was no energy in the building in New Orleans.

Then the individuals got to do one dunk against each other and a winner was picked for each battle. That was better but still not enough, even if judges Magic Johnson and Julius Erving said the dunk contest was back after a creative and impressive slam by John Wall.

Fast breaks

The Pacers are all-in this season. The acquisition of Evan Turner and big man Lavoy Allen for Danny Granger before the trade deadline was a solid move for a contender trying to get past Miami. The versatile Turner gives Indiana more depth on a bench that includes Luis Scola, C.J. Watson, Ian Mahinmi, Chris Copeland, Andrew Bynum and Allen, and the injury-riddled Granger might not be able to hold up. The Heat still is the favorite in the East.

The 76ers collected six second-round picks in trades Thursday. They now have five in this year’s draft.

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