LAS VEGAS—Could Broadway get its own Big Three? Chris Paul made it known he was open to the idea while addressing guests at Carmelo Anthony’s wedding in Manhattan on Saturday.
According to multiple sources who attended the wedding, which was held at Cipriani on 42nd Street, the common theme among the best wishes to Anthony and his new bride, television personality LaLa Vazquez, was that they should consider taking up permanent residence in New York and Anthony, a three-time All-star and All-NBA second team this past season, should take the challenge LeBron James passed on with the Knicks.
And, with a less-than-pleased Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke in attendance, Paul included in his address to the happy couple that he wanted to get the Nuggets star to go with him to New York and join Amare Stoudemire with the Knicks “and form our own Big Three” to challenge the newly formed triumvirate in Miami, with James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Stoudemire, who also attended the wedding, loved what he heard. When Stoudemire first arrived in New York the previous Saturday night, he reportedly said, “I’ve talked to Carmelo Anthony that he needs to come out here.”
Anthony is scheduled to be a free agent next summer and Paul has an opt-out in 2012. And there is no coincidence that the Knicks, who missed out on James in this year’s free-agency frenzy, are making sure they maintain enough salary-cap space to be in play for either or both.
Several players have said Anthony is hesitant to sign a three-year, $65-million extension with Denver because he is unsure about the franchise’s future in building a championship-caliber team. He is also concerned about whether coach George Karl, who is recovering from neck and throat cancer, will be able to return.
Karl, who was in attendance here Sunday to watch his son, Coby, and the Nuggets beat the Knicks, 100-90, in an NBA Summer League game, told Newsday that he is “not 100 percent yet” but is “feeling stronger every day.” His goal is to be back on the Nuggets bench in time for the start of the regular season, but added, “My health is still the first priority.”
When asked if he was concerned about Anthony leaving the Nuggets as a free agent, Karl replied: “I don’t get involved in that very much. A long time ago, I said, ‘I’m a coach.’ The business of basketball is always going to be messing with you. Melo’s a great player. If he signs or doesn’t sign, I think he’ll have a great year for us next year.”
Though there is a risk in leaving money on the table, especially with the NBA and the players’ union set to begin talks for a new collective-bargaining agreement next summer, those close to Anthony say he is intrigued by what a move to the Garden stage could do for his career. He has consistently lagged behind fellow Class of 2003 stars, James and Wade, in popularity. His jersey, in fact, isn’t among the top 10 in sales, according to the NBA.
Anthony could try to push for a trade, perhaps a trade-and-extend deal, which the Knicks would gladly do. But at this point, the Nuggets are not considering offers for him. If Anthony steps forward and asks for it, then Denver might have to consider dealing him or risk losing him for nothing next summer. The Knicks don’t have enough room for a full max contract next summer, but are close and can maneuver to create the space for it.
Anthony shares the same agent as James in Leon Rose. Paul just left his agency, Octagon, to become the most significant client for James’s fledgling marketing and branding company, LRMR, which he owns with business partner Maverick Carter. There could be some obvious strategy here.
Paul recently told ESPN that if his team, the New Orleans Hornets, are not committed to building a championship-caliber team, he would seek a trade. It would be extremely difficult for the Knicks to pull off both blockbuster deals, especially any time soon. But the fact that two star-level players have the Knicks in mind certainly will motivate Donnie Walsh to maintain flexibility with the payroll so if those players do become available, the Knicks will be ready to strike.
Alan Hahn, Business Mirror