Newest Knick Tim Hardaway Jr. doesn’t want to see Carmelo Anthony leave New York.
“We definitely want him back,” Hardaway said Monday at his introductory media availability in Manhattan. “No question.”
Anthony is one of just two players remaining from Hardaway’s first stint in New York, the other being Lance Thomas. The Knicks drafted Hardaway in 2013, and the shooting guard played two seasons before Phil Jackson traded him to Atlanta.
Hardaway signed a four-year, $71 million contract with the Knicks last week. He and Anthony developed a strong bond during his first two years at the Garden, and as the Daily News first reported, Anthony called Hardaway in the aftermath of Jackson’s 2015 draft night trade to express his displeasure with the move.
Hardaway returned the favor publicly Monday, with rumors continuing to swirl around Anthony, who possess a no-trade clause but will reportedly waive it to join the Cavaliers or Rockets. Hardaway has not heard from Anthony since signing his deal.
“It’s an odd feeling. But Melo’s got to do what’s best for his family and for him,” Hardaway said of the possibility Anthony could be traded. “Just having that veteran leader out there on the floor, a go-to guy who can get you a bucket at any given moment of a game, it’s great. It’s great to have that. You want to have that in the NBA. It would be tough for him to leave, but like I said, he has to do what’s best for him and his family.”
In the case Anthony does waive his no-trade clause and leaves New York, the Knicks’ roster would be left with few veterans and young, inexperienced core.
Hardaway — who was a key piece and frequent starter on a Hawks squad that finished fifth in the East last season — believes he’s ready to step into the leadership vacuum.
“I feel like I’m ready to be a leader,” he said. “I felt like that last season. We had many guys on the court that led in many aspects of the game throughout the whole entire season while I with Atlanta. So just being able to come back here knowing the city, knowing the franchise, knowing how the Garden is and the environment that we play in, I pretty sure I can help lead this team and help us succeed.”