Carmelo Anthony’s Trail Blazers prayer makes Knicks reunion unlikely

Carmelo Anthony’s Trail Blazers prayer makes Knicks reunion unlikely

Sorry Leon Rose, Tom Thibodeau and Mike Woodson.

Carmelo Anthony’s first choice is returning to Portland.

Following the Blazers’ first-round elimination late Saturday night against the Lakers, the 36-year-old Anthony emphatically stated he wanted to return to the franchise that “revived” his dead career.

“I pray that it could be Portland,” Anthony said on Zoom. “Honestly, thank God I found a home in Portland. I got comfortable with the organization. I got comfortable with the guys on the team. They got comfortable with me.

“At this point in my career, I do think that that’s the best fit for me, the best situation,” the ex-Knick added. “Especially having this experience now and kind of just getting my feet wet, coming in and being who I am and staying true to myself. I really hope that it can be Portland at the end of the day where we give ourselves a chance to keep this team together, get guys healthy and get another run at it.”

Earlier in the bubble, Anthony stated superstar Damian Lillard was the best player he’s ever teamed with. In Saturday’s Game 5, Anthony scored 27 points on 9 of 16 shooting with seven rebounds, though committed five turnovers. Anthony’s offense made up for the injury absence of Lillard as they battled Los Angeles into a mid-fourth-quarter tie.

According to sources, Anthony has been on Rose’s radar ever since he took over the presidency in early March. Rose is Anthony’s former top client at Creative Artists Agency. Other connections include Anthony lobbying for Thibodeau to become Knicks coach in 2014 and the newly hired assistant Woodson getting Anthony to play his best two-way ball in the 2012-13 season.

It also makes sense because the Knicks have no clear starting small forward. The Knicks also need an outside-shooting forward after Julius Randle regressed from deep last season.

However, Anthony’s stint with Portland couldn’t have gone better. He hit clutch shots and became a third option to Lillard and CJ McCollum at age 36.

When the pandemic paused the season on March 11, several league sources believed the Brooklyn product preferred to end his career in New York. But the Blazers’ bubble performance in which they lifted themselves into the playoffs has changed minds, and the Oregonian reported their players have expressed nothing but love and admiration for Anthony — many of whom grew up idolizing him.

“Being able to have another opportunity at this game, Portland, if you want to say ’revived’ is the word, but allowed me to come in and just be myself and be who I am and do what I do best,” Anthony said Saturday night. “So, I’ll always be appreciative of that.”

Anthony made the veteran’s minimum of $2.1 million and the Blazers surely would want him for that price. After all his mega-contracts, it’s unclear if Anthony will seek a vast payday.

Anthony played 10 games for the Rockets in 2018-19 before he was traded to and waived by the Bulls, and no team picked him up. Rose couldn’t find a club for Anthony when the 2019-20 season began -– even the Nets turning him down for training camp in favor of Lance Thomas. Rose found Anthony a home in Portland in late November.

Blazers coach Terry Stotts called Anthony’s season “special.” He averaged 15.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and shot 43 percent.

“Obviously in the bubble he made some big shots and got us into the playoffs,” Stotts said. “I feel very honored to have been able to coach him. He’s a Hall of Fame player and he’s a Hall of Fame guy.”

 


Paul Maldonado

Paul Maldonado

Every team has a designated sports enthusiast, and in the Bulletin Bits team, that enthusiast is Paul. He brings energy and warmth to the team with his constant quips and snippets from the sporting world. His dedication to sports leaks into his work as well. His stories are unique perspectives into the sporting world that take the ordinary man into the shoes of the athletes. He is a talented sportsman himself, with many accolades under his belt already. What stops him from becoming a professional athlete is his inability to choose one sport to pursue for the better!

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