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Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press
Impending free-agent forward Carmelo Anthony has expressed strong interest in returning to the Portland Trail Blazers, but he’s reportedly open to heading back to the New York Knicks if the team deals for his close friend and Oklahoma City point guard Chris Paul.
Marc Berman of the New York Post provided the report:
“If point guard Chris Paul makes his way to the Knicks via a trade, sources have said Anthony is likely to want to follow. Anthony and Paul are close friends and have dreamed of playing together on an NBA team.
“Both players were represented by Knicks president Leon Rose when he was basketball chief of Creative Artists Agency. A source said Rose is amenable to an Anthony return even without Paul.“
Anthony, who has played in the NBA from 2003-2020, suited up for the Knicks from 2011-2017. He averaged 24.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in New York and led the franchise to its only playoff series win over the past 20 years in 2013.
The Knicks have expressed interest in Paul, per Berman, and the Thunder are looking to move the veteran as they continue their rebuild. Paul averaged 17.6 points, 6.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game for the Thunder, who finished fifth in the Western Conference.
As for Anthony, the ex-Syracuse star found himself without an NBA home in 2018 after the Houston Rockets parted ways with him following 10 games. He couldn’t latch onto a team for the remainder of the 2018-19 season, but the Blazers came calling after their frontcourt suffered numerous injuries early last year.
That second lease on an NBA life was all Anthony needed to prove he belonged in the NBA as he averaged 15.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game for Portland, who snuck into the playoffs as the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed before losing to the eventual NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.
Anthony expressed his affinity for Portland in a Zoom call with reporters following Portland’s elimination from the playoffs in late August, per Berman.
“I pray that it could be Portland,” Anthony said. “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.”
But Anthony, a Brooklyn native, could fit well in New York, a young team looking for an identity, veteran leadership, a core to build around and some direction.
That’s up to new president Leon Rose and head coach Tom Thibodeau to figure out, but Paul and Anthony could be a good start to help guide a team with some young and talented players (e.g. RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, the team’s future 2020 first-round draft picks).