Lakers, Knicks may be in play for Carmelo Anthony in free agency

Last offseason, Knicks president Leon Rose was gung-ho about signing Carmelo Anthony, his former client, but the former Syracuse NCAA champion took the safer route and stayed in Portland.

Anthony’s former teammate, Chauncey Billups, is now the Trail Blazers’ head coach, so it doesn’t appear likely he would come back to Portland. Reports had the Lakers “very interested’’ in uniting Anthony with his buddy LeBron James.

Another report, however, said Anthony is back on Rose’s list. The Knicks are still seeking a small forward who can shoot and Anthony averaged 13.4 points last season — shooting 40.9 percent from 3-point range, though an inefficient 42 percent overall.

“Melo was like a good teammate, man. Melo practiced every day. He didn’t miss any games,’’ Billups, who played with Anthony in Denver and New York, said in 2019. “Now the only thing I will say — and I’ve even told Melo this — scoring 30 meant too much to Melo.

Carmelo Anthony

“It meant too much because he could have games where he had 20, 22 [points], we win the game and he’s mad. He might have 36 and he’s in there, we lose the game and he’s in there picking everybody up. Scoring 30 meant too much, but I think now you look, fast forward the tape, and the reason why he’s not in the league because he’s still worthy, is he hasn’t mentally taken that step back to say, ‘OK, I’ll come in and play against back-ups.’ ’’

The Knicks believe Anthony’s mindset has changed. They could even forgo using cap room and offer him the cap-room exception of $4.5 million. The Lakers probably can’t go beyond the $2 million veteran minimum.

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