GREENBURGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Fear not, Knicks fans: Steve Mills says Isiah Thomas won’t be making a return to Madison Square Garden.
“Isiah has been a friend of mine … but I will say Isiah will not be coming back,” the team’s new president and general manager said Monday on WFAN radio.
Mills believes Thomas, who served as president of the NBA Players Association during his playing career, would be well-suited for the union’s top job.
“I think he would be be a great candidate for the executive director position,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mills faces uncertainty with superstar Carmelo Anthony, who feels there is no reason to think about his potential free agency now.
The Knicks don’t seem so sure.
New York followed its first Atlantic Division championship team in 19 years with a strangely timed change in the front office, just days before opening training camp. Mills returned, replacing Glen Grunwald, with a mandate from owner James Dolan to overhaul the entire organization and make the Knicks “the best that there can be in the NBA.”
Maybe that would be enough to keep Anthony in New York.
The NBA’s leading scorer can become a free agent next summer, and Mills made it clear that keeping him will be a priority.
“He clearly is one of those superstar players that don’t come around very often,” Mills told reporters during Monday’s media day.
“So while it’s premature in the process, we’ve made it clear that we have every intention of making Carmelo a Knick for a long time to come.”
Anthony doesn’t seem to know what it would take to keep him, since he insists he’s not even considering his future yet.
“I think that’s a different conversation for a different time and for different people,” Anthony said. “When that time comes, we’ll deal with that. We’ll address those situations; we’ll address those options. But right now I just feel like there’s no need to even talk about that or address that, because it’s not something I’ve been thinking about.”
He is thinking about helping the Knicks build on last season’s 54-28 record, and it won’t be easy. Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith is coming off summer knee surgery and may not be ready for the season opener. Perhaps more alarming is yet another knee surgery for Amar’e Stoudemire, who was limited to just 29 games last season after a pair of them.
Both he and the Knicks said the most recent procedure was minor. Stoudemire wouldn’t even say which knee, but he seems resigned to taking his recovery slowly and playing restricted minutes once he’s back on the floor.
Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace are among the newcomers who hope to fill the void until the return of one or both of the injured reserves. Anthony believes the Knicks will be better than expected, and an easy way for the team to keep him happy is to prove it.
“There’s no doubt that we want Melo in a Knick uniform, but first things first,” coach Mike Woodson said. “We’ve got to figure this season out.”
Mills picked up the 2014-15 option on Woodson’s contract in his first move, but Dolan apparently wants much more from Mills, who was being considered as the executive director of the NBA Players Association and also as the athletic director at his alma mater, Princeton.
“He wants to have an organization that is the best that there can be in the NBA, and he felt that it was time to bring someone in that could take a look at every aspect of running the basketball business,” said Mills, mentioning areas such as the use of analytics and scouting.
The good news for Mills is his star player doesn’t sound as though he expects him to figure it all out this season.
“I’m not going to put that pressure on our team or myself or our guys and say that it’s championship or bust,” Anthony said. “I want us to go out there and just play ball this year and just take it one day at a time. Get better, have fun with doing that. Because at the end of the day, if we are having fun, then it will be a successful season.”
Anthony, who was born in Brooklyn, fought hard to get to New York. He told the Denver Nuggets he wanted to be traded in the summer of 2010, and it wasn’t until the following February that he got his wish. Kenyon Martin, also a teammate in Denver, can’t imagine Anthony would want to leave.
“I think he likes the team. I think he likes the organization — of course he loves the city — so there’s nothing more better than playing in New York City,” Martin said.
“Ultimately it’s going to be his choice at the end of the day, but personally I can’t see him going anywhere else.”
Anthony said Monday’s media day would be the only time he would talk about his contract status until after the season.
“When that time comes, I’ll deal with that,” he said. “I’m not going to go through the season thinking about my contract.”
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