By Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog
Last year the Carmelo Anthony Sweepstakes dominated the New York headlines until he ultimately landed with the Knicks at the trade deadline.
Now it’s Chris Paul’s turn.
The New Orleans Hornets point guard becomes a free agent next summer, and until then he will continue to answer questions about whether he wants to join Melo and Amar’e Stoudemire in the Big Apple.
“I try not to pay attention to all that different type of stuff,” Paul said Tuesday in Brooklyn at an event at the Boys & Girls Club to support The Carmelo Anthony Foundation. “My heart is in New Orleans and right now the reason I’m here in New York is for ['Melo]…
“I know I’m just happy to be here and be a part of it, to give these boxes out to the needy families and then going over to the [Five-Star Basketball] Clinic and seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when we show up.”
Paul was a member of the executive committee and was in the meetings during the NBA lockout, but said he doesn’t believe the new deal will necessarily help him achieve his goals going forward.
“This deal was not about one person,” he said. “It’s not about me, it’s not about any one of these guys. It’s about the collective group.
“We’re so excited to be able to come back and play this game. These past few months have been brutal as far as not being able to go out there and do what we love.”
The Knicks will make Paul a priority for the summer of 2012 — when Chauncey Billups’ $14.2 million comes off the books — and will reportedly only sign players to one-year deals in the meantime.
Questions remain, however.
What kind of players will sign with the Knicks for only one year? Can they really address their shot-blocking big man and shooting needs adequately with one-year stop-gaps?
When last we saw the depleted and overmatched Knicks, Stoudemire had a back problem, Billups was sidelined by a knee injury and they were getting swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Celtics.
Anthony didn’t address the team’s specific needs, only saying that he was happy the lockout was over.
“First of all, we are excited to be back together once again,” Anthony said. “We had a short run last year when I came here to New York. And now we get a training camp together, we get some time to jell. We just excited about this season, so much excitement out here right now, here in New York surrounding the game of basketball, period.
“So we just excited to get back out here and have our shot to go get it.”
For the time being, Anthony and Stoudemire must go forward without Paul as the third member of their Big Three.
“How many kids can ever say that they saw LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade in the same place at one time?” Paul asked rhetorically in reference to the clinic.
“Chris Paul, don’t forget yourself,” James interjected.
“…And actually get instruction from them,” Paul added. “So I’m just happy to be here I’m just happy to be here supporting ‘Melo.”
Whether he ever ends up supporting ‘Melo in a Knicks uniform, well, fans will just have to wait another year to find that one out.