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.

French point guard Theo Maledon declares for NBA draft

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French point guard Theo Maledon has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The six-foot-five Maledon is declaring as an Early Entry candidate from the international ranks. International players who do not turn 22 in the calendar year of the draft can declare as Early Entry players.

At 18 years old, Maledon was a part-time starter for ASVEL Basket in France in the French Pro A League. ASVEL Basket is owned in part by former NBA player Tony Park, who also serves as the club’s president. Maleon started in 23 of the 46 games he played for ASVEL Basket this season.

In 46 games with ASVEL, Maledon averaged 7.3 points per game. He shot 42.1% from the floor, including 33.3% on three-pointers. He also averaged 2.7 assists per game. In mid-January, against former NBA player Shane Larkin and Turkish club Anadolu Efes, Maledon started and dished out 10 assists, while scoring five points and grabbing six rebounds.

In part due to his size for the point guard position, and his excellent play on the youth level, ESPN has Maledon ranked 15th in their top-100 prospects. He’s widely expected to be in the mix to be a lottery pick.

Players have until Sunday, April 26 to declare as Early Entry candidates. The deadline to withdraw as an Early Entry candidate is Monday, June 15. The 2020 NBA Draft is currently scheduled to be held on Thursday, June 25.

Report: Pacers GM Chad Buchanan turns down interview with Bulls

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Indiana Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan has reportedly declined an opportunity to interview for a front office job with the Chicago Bulls.

Buchanan joined the Pacers in 2017 as their general manager under President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard. Prior to moving to Indiana, Buchanan was the assistant general manager with the Charlotte Hornets.

In turning down the Bulls opportunity, Buchanan cited how well he and his family have been treated in Indiana. Buchanan had previously worked with Pritchard when both were members of the Portland Trail Blazers front office.

Chicago is replacing John Paxson and Gar Forman at the top of their front office structure. Paxson and Forman have led the Bulls basketball operations together since 2009. Chicago’s search will now reportedly focus on Arturas Karnisovas of the Denver Nuggets, Adam Simon of the Miami Heat and Bobby Webster of the Toronto Raptors.

This Day in NBA History: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar becomes NBA’s all-time scoring leader

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It was fitting he did it with a skyhook.

On April 5, 1984, in a game against the Utah Jazz (played in a sold-out Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took a pass from Magic Johnson, swung left, and drained a hook shot that gave him career point No. 31,420, moving him past Wilt Chamberlain to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

The game stopped as the celebration ensued as Kareem’s teammates swarmed the captain. He was taken out of the game at that point, done for the night.

Abdul-Jabbar wasn’t done scoring, however. H retired five seasons later with 38,387 points, a record that stands to this day.

Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn’t have home court, players forced to workout with what they have

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MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo is spending much of his time during the coronavirus-imposed hiatus working out, helping care for his newborn son and playing occasional video games.

What the reigning MVP isn’t doing very often is shooting baskets since the NBA has closed team practice facilities.

“I don’t have access to a hoop,” the Milwaukee Bucks forward said Friday during a conference call. “A lot of NBA players might have a court in their house or something, I don’t know, but now I just get my home workouts, (go) on the bike, treadmill, lift weights, stay sharp that way.”

The hiatus is forcing thousands of athletes, pro and otherwise, to work out from home as they try to keep in shape. Equipment varies from player to player, too.

“It all comes down to what they have and what they’re capable of doing,” Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “We can do a lot of body weight stuff. That’s how they stay ready. That’s the most I can offer as a coach for them to stay ready. I can’t say ‘Hey, can you find access to a gym?’ That would be bad management on my part.”

For instance, Pierce said Hawks guard Kevin Huerter has access to a gym in New York and guard Jeff Teague owns a gym in Indiana.

Other players face different situations.

“I’ve seen LeBron’s Instagram,” Pierce said of Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James. “LeBron has a house with a full weight room and he has an outdoor court. He’s got a different reality right now that gives him a little more access to continue the normal. (Hawks rookie) Cam Reddish lives in an apartment and it’s probably a two-bedroom apartment. He can’t go in the apartment weight room because it’s a public facility. So he’s limited in all things.”

Bucks coach Mike Budenhlolzer said he wanted his players to focus on keeping their bodies in shape and conceded that logistics surrounding the pandemic would make it tougher for them to do any basketball-specific activities.

The Bucks are still finding ways to stay sharp.

Bucks players said team officials have made sure they all have the necessary exercise equipment. Antetokounmpo noted the Bucks also had a catering company bring food to make sure they maintain a proper diet. Center Brook Lopez said workout plans have been sent to them via a phone app.

“They’ve done a really good job of getting everything taken care of and still having tailored workouts for each individual player despite the situation,” Lopez said.

But it’s difficult for them to work on their shooting without access to a court.

“Since the practice facility is closed down, I don’t have any access to a basketball goal unless I go to one of my neighbors’ houses and shoot outside,” Bucks forward Khris Middleton said. “There’s really no basketball for me. It’s basically like Giannis said. Treadmill, jump rope, some weights and that’s it. I have a couple of basketballs I can dribble in my house or outside, but no actual goal to shoot on.”

Pierce noted that Huerter recently asked him when players would be able to get back into the Hawks’ practice facility.

“I told him, ‘I’ll tell you when we won’t,” Pierce said. “We won’t in April.”