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SportsColumnistsAl Iannazzone

Will Carmelo Anthony stay or go?

Carmelo Anthony waits during a break late in

Carmelo Anthony waits during a break late in the second half of a game against the Atlanta Hawks. (Nov. 16, 2013) Credit: AP

With the exception of hitting late fourth-quarter shots, Carmelo Anthony has been doing almost all of the right things on the court this season.

Off it, he's been saying almost all of the right things about his future.

But in the last few days, the Melo-drama returned in full force, and it's not leaving anytime soon.

ESPN reported that Anthony already has made his decision: He's leaving the Knicks. Anthony denied that, saying that unless it comes from him, "it's just not true.''

Then, in an interview with USA Today, Oak Hill Academy coach Steve Smith said Anthony is "recruiting'' Rajon Rondo to join the Knicks. (Smith coached both men.) Rondo will be a free agent in 2015, when the Knicks will have money to spend.

That would seem to indicate that Anthony's plan is to stay. Then again, his plans could change, based on how the Knicks do and whatever else happens between now and July 1.

That's why the Knicks are in a very precarious position. They absolutely want to keep Anthony in a Knicks uniform. They want to build around him. And he has $129 million reasons to stay a Knick. But if there is even a small chance that he might leave, it might make sense for the Knicks to see what they can get for Anthony.

That doesn't mean they should trade him, will trade him or even will explore the possibility. Anthony is the best player to wear a Knicks uniform since Patrick Ewing and has led them to three straight playoff trips. The Knicks view him as one of the NBA's top players and someone who gives them a chance to win every night. That type of player is not easy to find.

There might not be a big market for Anthony. Not many teams would give up young players and draft picks for someone who likely would leave after the season. Teams trying to cut salary or those looking for a major player to help win a title could be candidates.

The Knicks' priority remains to re-sign Anthony. The best way to do that might be to make a trade for a significant player. They have tried and will keep trying.

They would love to get Rondo, but the Celtics haven't shown interest in dealing him and the Knicks might not have the assets to get him right now. But they have to keep trying to do something to make them more appealing to Anthony.

Nothing is guaranteed, and the question the Knicks have to ask is if they can afford to risk losing him in the summer without getting something for him.

It hasn't worked for Cleveland or Toronto. They put together last-minute sign-and-trade deals with the Heat for LeBron James and Chris Bosh, respectively, for draft picks and large trade exceptions. Neither has made the postseason since.

Timeless Tim

Tim Duncan scored only two points at the Garden in the Spurs' rout of the Knicks in November. But this past week, he had a vintage and historic performance.

Duncan became the oldest player (37 years, 221 days) to have a 20-20 game when he finished with 23 points and 21 rebounds against Atlanta. He capped that performance with a last-second jumper in a two-point victory over the Hawks and coach Mike Budenholzer, a former longtime Spurs assistant who saw that play run many times when he was with San Antonio.

"That's a credit to them and their execution and to Timmy,'' Budenholzer said. "Timmy's a heck of a player, the greatest power forward ever. He did a heck of a job. I'm happy for him in a strange, [ticked-] off kind of way.''

Before Duncan, former Celtics great Robert Parish had been the oldest to have a 20-point, 20-rebound night (37 years, 48 days).

Ryan's hope

Hard to find a better back-to-back, especially on the road, than the one Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson had this past week.

The underrated Anderson totaled 67 points in 93 minutes and shot 14-for-22 from three-point range Sunday at the Garden and Monday in a triple-overtime thriller in Chicago.

Anderson was a late first-round pick by the Nets in 2008, and some in the organization never wanted to move him. But they sent Anderson to Orlando with Vince Carter in 2009 in a trade that landed Courtney Lee and the expiring contracts of Rafer Alston and Tony Battie.

The Nets did it because then-GM Kiki Vandeweghe wanted to develop Yi Jianlian. They also were clearing cap space for LeBron James and the other marquee players in the 2010 free-agent class. Neither worked out for the Nets.

Fast breaks

Kobe Bryant said in an interview with Bloomberg Television that his four dream teammates for a pickup game would be Magic Johnson,Larry Bird, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Interesting that Bryant omitted former Lakers teammate Shaquille O'Neal and Michael Jordan. But Jordan excluded Bryant on his list, picking Johnson, Scottie Pippen, James Worthy and Hakeem Olajuwon for his team.

The Portland Trail Blazers, a surprising 16-3 heading into the weekend and 8-0 against the East, were trolling on Twitter this week. The team's official Twitter account (@trailblazers) tweeted, "Is it too late to join the Eastern Conference? Asking for a friend.'' It was retweeted nearly 8,000 times as of Friday.

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

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