Storyline: Carmelo Anthony to Clippers?

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However, Melo’s biggest carrot would be achieving such a foreign feat alongside Chris Paul. Fast friends for a decade or more, the two waxed poetic over the years about someday becoming teammates. That’s what makes this next news so contradictory. According to a Clipper source, it was Paul, not coach Doc Rivers, as publicized without attribution, who turned thumbs down on a trade on deadline late last February that would’ve made them teammates. Supposedly, Doc declined to include his son, Austin. Let’s be clear about the above: I have been unable to confirm that story, but know this, the informant has been unfailingly accurate over the years.

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Anthony, if he so wishes, could be at the heart of their makeover. According to sources, the Clippers were interested in obtaining Anthony before the Feb. 23 trade deadline, but the Knicks turned down all of their offers — none of it making sense for Jackson at the time. More options will spring open this summer, including Redick’s free agency. With the Knicks lacking 3-point prowess, Redick is a 3-point marksman who wasn’t made available in January and February.

“No, no, no. Don’t start,” Anthony said when asked if he was thinking about joining the Clippers. “I haven’t thought about it. There was an opportunity during the deadline. There was always talk the past couple of seasons with me somehow being connected, whether it was the Clippers or Lakers. I’ve somehow always been connected. At first it was the Lakers and now it’s the Clippers situation. So I try not to think about that, especially now when I’m still playing with the New York Knicks and got to go out there and prepare to play against these guys.”

Anthony said he hasn’t told the front office that he would only be willing to go to certain teams. But he and his superstar friends have talked about that happening at some point, and they’re playing for contenders, so it could be even more appealing. “Those considerations and thoughts will always be,” Anthony said. “That’s something we all think about as athletes, try to play with another. We talk about it from high school and college. These are conversations that we’ve had years before any of this ever came up.”

When Anthony approached the foul line in the first quarter Sunday in Atlanta, a Hawks cheering section started chanting “L.A. Clippers.” “He has control. Like anything else, talk is out there. He’s trying to focus on playing and helping his team win. At the end, he has the final say. He’s going to keep playing for us, and guys have to put all that stuff aside and keep playing,” Hornacek said before Anthony scored 45 points in 46 minutes in the Knicks’ 142-139 four-overtime loss to the Hawks on Sunday.

The problem, however, is that Jackson is willing to deal Anthony without getting one of the Clippers top three players in return. As the Daily News reported on Thursday, Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are not part of the proposed package. Instead, the names being floated are Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers, two back-up guards with undesirable contracts. Or as one general manager told me on Friday, “if this trade happens, Phil could be sued for malpractice.”

With the Knicks known to think very favorably of 24-year-old Clippers guard Austin Rivers (career-high 11.9 points per game this season), and with various combinations of trade scenarios known to include other players like veteran shooting guard J.J. Redick (who will be a free agent this summer) and super sixth man Jamal Crawford(who signed a three-year, $42 million deal last summer), it seems clear that the Knicks’ interest level in parting ways with Anthony is growing by the day.

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November 17, 2017 | 5:33 pm EST Update