NBA All-Star Press Conferences and Media Availability 2014

Carmelo Anthony said his “first priority” is to remain a Knick, but he wants to see a plan

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NEW ORLEANS — Talk to Carmelo Anthony and it quickly becomes clear he loves being a Knick. He loves New York, he loves playing in Madison Square Garden, he loves Spike Lee, he loves everything about the experience.

He also wants to win an NBA title.

Are those two things compatible?

Anthony is asking himself that because he can and will opt out of his contract this summer and become an unrestricted free agent. That fact combined with the Knicks ugly 20-32 record — a record compiled a roster that will likely look very similar next season — makes the Knicks front office and a lot of fans concerned he could bolt for Chicago or some other destination.

However, Anthony sounds like a guy giving the Knicks the benefit of the doubt. He doesn’t want to go. He just wants to see a real plan in place.

“At the end of the day that’s my first priority, to stay,” Anthony said while meeting with the media in New Orleans Friday. “That’s my first priority. My priority is to figure it out, let’s figure it out together…

“My priority is not to just because I say I want to be a free agent, is to go leave. I never was a guy that comes into a situation and basically when it’s not going well to leave like that. That’s not my personality.”

Along those lines, Anthony shot down the idea he asked for a trade, nor has the team talked to him about one.

“That conversation never even came up…” Anthony said. “I don’t want to be traded. I just don’t want to be traded. I came to New York, and I said it before, I wanted to retire a Knick. That’s not something I would bull—- with, I said it, I meant it. That’s how I feel.”

Does he still feel that way despite this season?

“I still feel strongly about that,” Anthony said. “That’s why at the end of the season everything needs to be laid out on the table. From both parties. If that’s something we can grow with, we can build on, we can compete with at the highest level, then we’re rolling. If that’s not the plan that they have, then we got to talk about something else.

It seems odd that there has not been some discussion of the long-term plans with Anthony already.

That plan is likely going to be a 2015 and 2016 plan — the summer of 2015 is when Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani all come off the books and the Knicks will have cap room to go after free agents. There have been reports Kevin Love is a target, but if he leaves Minnesota the Lakers and 28 other teams also will target Love. If not him there are a host of quality players potentially the market in those years (LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Durant to name a couple). The Knicks are going to have to recruit that level of talent, hope Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert develop (or can be flipped for good young players) find a system they all fit in.

Anthony sounds like a guy who wants to believe all the puzzle pieces will fit together and things are going to get better in New York. If he sees an aggressive plan he views as realistic, look for him to sign on to stay the face of the Knicks. That is his priority.

Carmelo Anthony predicts Knicks-Bulls on Christmas or opening night

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 23: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks shoots over Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Carmelo Anthony said the Knicks should have gotten a Christmas game last year. In hindsight, the NBA reportedly agreed.

So, Anthony expects New York to get a marquee matchup — against the Bulls — on either Christmas or opening night.

Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:

The storylines are overflowing.

The Knicks added Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah — two former Bulls — to join Anthony, who strongly considered Chicago in his last free agency. The Bulls answered with a couple big names: Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. They’ll join Jimmy Butler, whose stature is only growing — just like Kristaps Porzingis in New York.

Those are plenty of attention-drawing players, and the league will want to capitalize, even if we’re talking about a couple middling Eastern Conference teams.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that New York and Chicago are huge markets.

Newspaper uses crying Michael Jordan photo with article on his race statement

SPRINGFIELD, MA - SEPTEMBER 11: Michael Jordan to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame speaks during an induction ceremony on September 11, 2009 in Springfield, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Michael Jordan issued a statement on race in America and donated $2 million to a couple worthy causes.

That drew international coverage, including one curious photo choice:

Only in Malawi.

Watch Amar’e Stoudemire’s top 10 career plays (video)

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When Amar’e Stoudemire retired, I said history will treat him better than present-day analysis — maybe even to the point he gets legitimate Hall of Fame consideration.

Get past Stoudemire’s injury-caused decline with the Knicks and his wayward years with the Mavericks and Heat, and Stoudemire was a heck of a player with the Suns (and in his first year in New York).

Thanks to the NBA, the process of remembering Stoudemire for his peak can begin immediately. I was blown away by the first few highlights before realizing they were just the introduction for the top 10.

Kings GM Vlade Divac: DeMarcus Cousins is ‘most dominant player in the whole world’

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26:  DeMarcus Cousins #12 of the United States Men's National Team dribbles the ball up court against the China Men's National Team during the first half of a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at ORACLE Arena on July 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Vlade Divac isn’t calling Rudy Gay with trade-talk updates.

So, how is the Kings general manager spending his time?

Watching DeMarcus Cousins with Team USA.

James Ham of CSN California on Cousins:

He’s primed to show the world what both he and plenty of others around the basketball world already believe — that he is the best big man in the world.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said from his courtside seat. “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world. And being from Serbia, I have to root for Serbia, but I feel bad for them. He’s going to kill them.”

If we take Divac’s statement — “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world” — at face value, nope. LeBron James is. Other players like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are also better than Cousins, but big men can dominate in a way perimeter players can’t

If Divac meant just among big men, there’s a case. When Cousins is fully engaged, it’s one I’d definitely buy. He’s a load to handle inside, and his defense can be top-notch.

There are just too many times Cousins checks out. It’s a fine line, because Cousins’ emotions carries him to his highs. But he hasn’t yet found an ideal equilibrium point. His lows are still too low and too frequent.

That said, no center nears Cousins’ peak dominance. DeAndre Jordan and Draymond Green, when he plays the position, need too much help from teammates to be considered truly dominant. Andre Drummond isn’t polished enough. Even with his flaws, Cousins is probably already the NBA’s most dominant center.

Most dominant player, though? No. That’s a step too far.