Ian BegleyESPN Staff WriterClose
- Covers the New York Knicks for ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony returned to Madison Square Garden as a fan Sunday night, but he hopes to play in the arena again in the near future.
“I’ve had some great years in this building. I look forward to coming back and playing in this building some more,” Anthony said in an in-game interview with MSG Network during the Knicks’ loss to the Miami Heat.
Anthony, currently a member of the Chicago Bulls, will likely be a free agent shortly. The Bulls, who received Anthony in a trade with the Houston Rockets, will trade or waive the 10-time All-Star before the Feb. 7 trade deadline, league sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“At this point, I just want to be happy,” Anthony said when discussing his next move. “I think I’ve put myself in a good, peaceful mind state right now, [being] able to focus in on what I need to focus in on. And whatever’s going to make me happy, then we’re going to make it happen.”
Anthony attended the game Sunday to see his good friend Dwyane Wade play in his final NBA season.
“If it was one moment that I could come out and be here in this seat, it’s to come see him finish it out here in the Garden,” Anthony said from his seat on the baseline near the Heat bench. “Knowing what he’s put into this game, knowing what he’ll continue to do, it’s deeper than basketball when it comes to us.”
Anthony received a long, loud ovation from the fans at the Garden when he was introduced on the JumboTron in the first quarter.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 28, 2019
This felt right!!! https://t.co/mTJwHZKhAb
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) January 28, 2019
“The energy has always been good [in the arena]. The fans have always been good,” said Anthony, whose seven-season tenure in New York ended amid acrimony with ex-Knicks team president Phil Jackson. “The fans have always been good to me too. This is home, New York is home. Family is here, friends [are] here. So you can’t beat this energy.”
Wade, one of Anthony’s closest friends in the NBA, is certain that Anthony can still help an NBA team.
“It’s about the right fit. It’s about the right mentality,” Wade said Sunday. “The toughest part for GMs, presidents, owners and players is how to handle an aging superstar, right, in this game. It has to all work perfectly.
“Everyone has to make the right sacrifices, and it has to be the right group, and it has to be the right coach,” Wade said. “It has to work perfectly when it’s an aging star in this game. And unfortunately, his last stop in Houston, it wasn’t the right stop. But Carmelo can play basketball.”
Anthony, 34, averaged 13.4 points on 40 percent shooting in 29 minutes per game this season for the Rockets. He played just 10 games in Houston before agreeing to part ways with the club. At the time, GM Daryl Morey said that the fit the Rockets envisioned with Anthony never materialized.
The Los Angeles Lakers have an interest in Anthony but have no plans to waive a player to create an available roster spot for him, league sources told Wojnarowski. If a roster spot becomes available with the Lakers before or after the trade deadline, they’ll be a possible destination for Anthony, league sources said.
Wade said Sunday that Anthony, who has been traded by the Knicks, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Rockets in the past 16 months, is currently in good spirits.
“Forget basketball. I just want to make sure that everything that’s happened in the last year-and-a-half, whatever, that his mental is OK and that’s doing all right. He seems to be,” Wade said. “Through our conversations, I can tell, the videos are sent in our group chat, I can tell all those things, that his spirit is up, that he’s feeling better. Hopefully, [he’ll get] an opportunity to come back out on this NBA floor, whether it’s this year, whether it’s next year, to continue to play this game that he loves and he’s still good at.”