Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — When LeBron James came to Madison Square Garden last season as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, he was asked by a swarm of reporters his thoughts about potentially joining the Knicks as a free agent.
When he came to the Garden as a member of the Miami Heat in mid-December, he was pressed about why he made his famous “Decision.”
Now, in his latest trip to the Big Apple, James was grilled about whether the Knicks need Carmelo Anthony to make them a legitimate title contender.
“I believe that at the end of the day he has to do what’s best for himself and his family, and I think everything else takes care of itself,” James said before the Knicks beat the Heat, 93-88, at MSG.
“Carmelo has to be happy, whatever decision that he makes, either if he stays in Denver or if he’s traded. Hopefully, he can be happy. When you’re happy, the game of basketball takes care of itself.”
James didn’t deny a Sports Illustrated report that he told Anthony last summer at his wedding: “If you want any chance against us in Miami, you’d better team up with Stoud’ in New York.”
“We said what we said but at the end of the day we was excited to be there for his wedding, him and his wife LaLa,” James said Thursday.
Stoudemire, James and his Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade (he of the banned tinted goggles) were named Eastern Conference starters for the NBA All-Star Game, along with Dwight Howard of the Magic and Derrick Rose of the Bulls.
Anthony will start for the West along with Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, Chris Paul of the Hornets and Kevin Durant of the Thunder. (Yao Ming of the Rockets was picked, but he is injured.)
While the Heat have collected their “Miami Thrice” in James, Wade and the injured Chris Bosh (hamstring), the Knicks have one legitimate star in Stoudemire, their first All-Star starter since Patrick Ewing in 1997.
Raymond Felton has made a strong push to be an All-Star reserve, and the Knicks have some nice young pieces in Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Landry Fields.
But the addition of Anthony via trade or free agency could turn the Knicks into a legitimate challenger to the Heat, Celtics and Magic in the East.
“I would like to see him happy,” James reiterated. “If that’s staying in Denver or if that’s being in New York or being in New Jersey, wherever the case may be. All the speculation, I’m not a speculation guy. I’d like to see what happens and when it happens then I can make a comment about it.”
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov suddenly announced last week that his team was pulling out of the Melo Drama, perhaps because Anthony has never seemed inclined to sign his three-year, $65 million extension with the Nets.
Knicks president Donnie Walsh, meantime, knows Anthony wants to come to New York, but isn’t inclined to blow up his young nucleus to land him.
Walsh would likely have to deal a first-round pick, Eddy Curry’s expiring contract and several young pieces to land Anthony.
James, like Walsh, knows teams need depth, in addition to the presence of superstars, to compete for a title.
“When you look at Boston, when you look at the Lakers, these teams have been together for so long, they have guys even when guys get injured, they have guys that can step in and still produce,” James said.
“As a team we’re still trying to improve. The Knicks are still improving. But everyone is trying to figure out a way to get to the Lakers and get to the Celtics.”
With James having taken his talents to South Beach, the best way for the Knicks remains adding Carmelo.
But they may be best served waiting it out.
**Read the NBA.com notebook on the game with notes and quotes here.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.