Carmelo Anthony (l.) reveals he ‘threw’ his headband when learning that the Knicks wanted free agent target Lamarcus Aldridge to move to center to accomodate rookie Kristaps Porzingis.
LAS VEGAS — After recruiting LaMarcus Aldridge over the summer, Carmelo Anthony felt the Knicks had “a big chance” to land an All-Star running mate and one of the top free agents.
But the Knicks forward learned only recently, through a conversation with Aldridge at Team USA training camp, why a meeting never happened. As the Daily News reported, the Knicks wanted Aldridge to play the unfamiliar position of center to free up minutes at power forward for rookie Kristaps Porzingis.
“I didn’t know that. When he told me that, I didn’t know that. I took my headband and threw it across. . . . I honestly didn’t know that,” Anthony said.
It should be noted that Anthony — who was in an exceptional mood during the two Team USA practices this week — was playful and smiling while recalling the headband toss. But his belief was sincere that Aldridge, who signed with San Antonio for $ 90 million, would’ve chosen New York.
“I think we could have gotten LaMarcus. I believe, the conversations me and him had, it was a big chance that he was going to end up in New York,” Anthony said. “So I don’t really know where the playing the center position came in. I know from when I was talking to him we had a greater shot of getting him.”
A day earlier, Aldridge backed up Anthony’s account in an interview with The News, saying he had already begun recruiting other players to join the Knicks. Aldridge was “excited” about a meeting with the Knicks before pulling the plug because he didn’t want to play center.
Anthony, who is in contention for his fourth U.S. Olympic team, said he was very active in recruiting free agents, contacting Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan and “other guys.”
“I didn’t go to the meetings but I knew everything that was going on,” Anthony said. “Phil (Jackson) went out there and did their job. I tried to do my job on my end, we kept it at that, if it was time to sign somebody. But Phil’s the president. He do what he want to do.”
LaMarcus Aldridge is one of many players recruited by Carmelo Anthony this offseason.
“I talked to people. It wasn’t hard on selling them on New York. It wasn’t hard to sell them that I’m doing what I got to do to get back healthy,” Anthony added. “They saw the plan, they saw the vision. But it doesn’t just come to the basketball part of it. You have to look at the overall picture (like family and personal businesses).”
The Knicks, who don’t own their own 2016 draft pick, used their summer cap space on second-tier free agents Robin Lopez, Derrick Williams, Arron Afflalo and Kyle O’Quinn. Anthony’s former coach at Syracuse, Jim Boeheim, views the Knicks as improved from last season, but with a high degree of skepticism.
“It was tough (watching Anthony last season),” said Boeheim, who is an assistant with Team USA. “He has to work so hard to get them — and the year before, and the year before that — I worry about how hard he has to go just to get them a win. And when you get the ball with eight seconds left and you make a play and you shoot it, then everybody criticizes you for not passing. Well, where are you going to pass it in that situation?
“But he knows the deal in New York and he’s a man and can handle it. I just hope they can get to where they can be better. Frankly, I don’t look for miracles. I hope they can be better.”
Boeheim reiterated his previous sentiment that Anthony would’ve been better off signing with Chicago last summer.
“Everybody knew that. Me saying that, everybody gets mad at me. But it’s the truth. The New York Knicks’ owner should say that, if he was being truthful,” Boeheim said. “But I think it was a better situation to win. But he loves New York. I see that. I’m fine with that. There’s always hope they’d turn it around. But I know some college teams that have been in last place for 30 years. Every year they hope that they’re not going to be in last place.”
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