NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Carmelo Anthony can’t avoid free agency talk, even from his friends.
He and Jason Kidd were posing for photographers at a Sept. 11 charity event Wednesday when Kidd, his former teammate and now the Brooklyn Nets’ coach, asked Anthony if all the attention was for his announcement that he was going to Los Angeles.
If anyone else wants to bring up Anthony’s status beyond this season, they’d better do it soon. Once the New York Knicks start practice, he stops the discussion.
“I’m not. I’m just not going to do it,” he said. “I’m going to let everybody know the first day that I’m not going to talk about it. Hopefully you guys and your colleagues respect that, and that’s it.”
Anthony can become a free agent after the season, and there’s already speculation that the Lakers could be a suitor. Same with LeBron James, and the day after an ESPN story said the Heat superstar wouldn’t be addressing his future during the season, Anthony said he’d have the same strategy.
“I’m not, either,” he said.
Anthony and Kidd were among the athletes and entertainers who took part in a fundraiser in commemoration of the 658 Cantor Fitzgerald employees who died in the World Trade Center attacks. The celebrities joined brokers from Cantor Fitzgerald and BGC Partners to conduct transactions, with all revenues raised during the day going to more than 100 charities. They raised $12 million in 2012, bringing the total proceeds to about $89 million.
Knicks guard Iman Shumpert jumped on the phone to help close a deal, though he wasn’t certain how.
“They’re talking a lot of dollars, so I know I did something good,” he said.
Kidd was traded from Phoenix to New Jersey shortly before the 9/11 attacks. He moved east soon after and promptly led the Nets, long one of the league’s worst franchises, to the NBA Finals in his first season, helping lift some spirits locally.
“I think basketball was secondary, but it was also just a two-hour relief because people lost loved ones,” Kidd said, “and so it was something that New Jersey wasn’t used to because of the teams they’ve had in the past, and there was something special about that year for us to come from the bottom and then have a great season. But it was also a time for us to touch lives and make people smile or cheer, to give them something to take their mind off for two hours.”
He ended his 19-year playing career with the Knicks last season and then was hired as the Nets coach in June. Switching sides has added another element to a rivalry that’s taken off since the Nets moved to Brooklyn before last season and barely stopped for charity. Shumpert was handed a Nets hat off a broker’s desk and simply tossed it aside.
Kidd taunted Anthony, telling him the Nets were “just gonna take the ball out of your hands” when they play. Knicks coach Mike Woodson chuckled when he heard Anthony had hugged the Nets coach, praising Kidd but saying the pleasantries would be left behind once the games started.
“Jason was a big part of what we did,” Woodson said. “We wish Jason nothing but the best.”
Woodson and Anthony were pleased with the moves to replace Kidd, Rasheed Wallace and other players the Knicks lost off their Atlantic Division championship team. That’s especially important with Anthony perhaps having a decision to make about his future with the team next summer.
“Despite what everybody is saying, I feel that we made some huge strides this summer, acquiring the guys that we went out there and got,” Anthony said. “It wasn’t big, big names that we went out there and got, but the guys that we went and got, I think, fit in perfectly the void of the Jasons that left and the Rasheeds and all those other guys we had on the team. The (Andrea) Bargnanis, to get Metta (World Peace), to get Beno (Udrih), to sign Pablo (Prigioni) back, J.R. (Smith), I’m excited about this team.”
In other Knicks news, the team has signed guards Chris Smith and Toure’ Murry.
Smith is the younger brother of Knicks guard J.R. Smith, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year. Chris Smith, who helped Louisville reach the 2012 Final Four, was on the Knicks’ roster in the preseason last year before getting hurt and waived before the regular season.
Murry helped lead Rio Grande to the NBA Development League championship last season before playing on the Knicks’ summer league entry in July.
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