GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The New York Knicks’ new regime is ready to move on with or without Carmelo Anthony.
New president Steve Mills said Monday the Knicks have been talking to teams about a trade and will continue looking for a deal that works for the organization and its All-Star forward.
“But we also feel that Carmelo could easily be a part of our team next year, and we have to understand how we’re going to play and what the expectations of how we’re going to play, and we’re going to move forward,” Mills said. “So maybe with Carmelo or maybe without Carmelo.”
Mills also ruled out a buyout of Anthony’s contract, which has two years and about $54 million remaining and might be an easier route to a breakup than a trade.
Phil Jackson had been eager to deal Anthony before he and the Knicks parted ways last month. Mills was promoted to president and the Knicks hired Scott Perry as general manager.
They said the Knicks will focus on youth and athleticism, which doesn’t seem to leave room for the 33-year-old Anthony. But they added that veterans will still have a place in mentoring the young talent.
Anthony has a no-trade clause and has told the Knicks he would agree to a deal with Cleveland or Houston. But the Knicks don’t want to take back long-term contracts, which makes finding a deal difficult. Now Mills has Perry to help him find one.
“From our vantage point, we made a decision as we were getting closer to hiring Scott that I felt it was important for us to slow down, regroup as it related to the trade scenarios of Carmelo,” Mills said.
Perry has served in the front offices of Sacramento, Orlando, Seattle and Detroit, where he was part of the Pistons’ run of six straight trips to the Eastern Conference finals and an NBA championship. It was there where he said he learned the lessons about culture that the Knicks sorely need as they try to dig their way out of the dismal Jackson era.
“In terms of Detroit, people talk about culture all the time, about winning cultures,” Perry said. “I think the biggest thing I learned there, you can have a lot of signs and printouts that have a lot of fancy statements, but at the end of the day you’ve got to live culture every day.”
Mills, Perry and coach Jeff Hornacek detailed the vision they have for a franchise that emphasizes pride, work ethic and accountability. It sounds like another rebuilding stage, as Mills singled out the team’s young core and noted that the Knicks have all their first-round picks going forward.
But he believes New York fans are open to a rebuild if players are committed and play with passion. The Knicks barely did that in three years under Jackson, going 31-51 last season in Hornacek’s first year.
That was overshadowed off the court by the Anthony saga and on it by the Knicks’ difficulty in grasping and sticking to an offense. Hornacek was supposed to open things up, but Jackson decided midway through the season he wanted a renewed focus on the triangle that he ran as a coach.
“I don’t think we were restricted,” Hornacek said. “We were trying to meld some different ways you play basketball. We just weren’t able to do it the way we wanted to, but we’re moving forward.”
They didn’t talk much about what went wrong under Jackson, preferring to focus on the future during their news conference at the team’s training center. Mills and Perry said they have a strong relationship, with Mills saying the first-time GM would be given room to make decisions and recommendations pertaining to the coaching and scouting staff.
And with the Knicks insisting they would be accountable — as did Jackson, though he never talked to the local media during his final season — Perry said he would be straightforward and available as much as possible.
“I see myself as a bridge builder, not a bridge destroyer, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” he said.