TARRYTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The Knicks formally introduced their two new front-office hires Monday, and, of course, their first order of business was answering questions about Carmelo Anthony’s future.
Steve Mills, promoted last week from general manager to president, said after months of trying to trade Anthony, he decided to hit pause on negotiations to “make sure we’re doing what’s best for the New York Knicks and, at the same time, we’ll do what’s best for Carmelo.”
Mills had been engaged in trade talks with the Houston Rockets. But the Knicks have since had second thoughts about parting with the 10-time All-Star.
“Our view is if there’s an opportunity that works for Carmelo and works for us, then we’ll look at some kind of trade,” Mills said. “But we also feel that Carmelo Anthony could easily be a part of our team next year.”
Speaking to WFAN’s Mike Francesa later Monday, new general manager Scott Perry echoed Mills’ sentiments on Anthony.
“If there’s something there that’s going to be mutually beneficial to both teams, then we could look at maybe something that would involved a trade, but also very much look at the possibility there may not be something there that makes sense for us to move our team forward and Carmelo would be back and would look forward to working with him in that capacity,” Perry said.
The Knicks’ position is a stunning reversal after Anthony was shopped around last season and after team president Phil Jackson said in April that Anthony would be “better off somewhere else.” Jackson and the Knicks mutually parted ways last month, but Mills initially seemed intent on following through with a trade.
Mills ruled out a buyout of Anthony’s contract. Anthony will earn $26.2 million this season and has a $27.9 million player option for 2018-19.
Just moments before saying the Knicks might very well keep the 33-year-old Anthony, Mills said the Knicks will look to build around their younger players under his leadership.
“We’re going to emphasize pride, work ethic, accountability — in particularly those kinds of things because those are what we believe New York fans expect from the New York Knicks,” he said. “We’re going to emphasize youth, athleticism, teamwork and defense. We’re committed to rebuilding a team and building a team around the young core of players that we have — Kristaps (Porzingis), Tim Hardaway Jr., Frank (Ntilikina), Billy Hernangomez. And fortunately for us, moving forward we still have all of our first-round draft picks.”
Mills said the organization also will stress player development, of both young players and veterans.
He also said he has known Perry for a while and that he’s someone he always connected with. Perry spent the past three months as the Sacramento Kings’ vice president of basketball operations. He previously spent five seasons as the Orlando Magic’s assistant general manager and also held front-office jobs with the SuperSonics and Pistons.
“I want to say how excited I really am to be named general manager for the New York Knicks, a storied franchise, a franchise I grew up admiring from afar,” Perry said. “I have to pinch myself sometimes realizing that I’ve received this opportunity.”
Perry said one of his first tasks will be evaluating the front office.
“The goal is that we want to have first in class when it comes to a front-office operational staff,” he said.
Perry said continuity is important in building an annual contender.
“I think at every level of your organization, whether it’s coaching, players, front office, you name it, there’s got to be consistency,” he told Francesa. “There’s got to be consistency of thought, consistency of philosophy. There’s got to be a oneness, if you will.”
Perry’s father, Lowell, was an All-American football player at Michigan who went on to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, for whom he, in 1957, became the NFL’s first black assistant coach.
Perry said his dad, who died in 2001, has been a big influence on him.
“My dad taught me a lot of lessons about this sports world and what it takes to be successful,” he said. “I know he would be proud.”
Some other items of interest from the news conference:
• Mills said he has texted and spoken with Porzingis. Reportedly upset about the way the team was being run, the star big man skipped his exit interview with Jackson after last season and was the subject of trade talks just before the draft, when Jackson was still in charge.
• Mills said that if he had been team president on draft night, he still would have selected French point guard Frank Ntilikina with the eighth overall pick.