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Thursday, December 1, 2011
Melo hopes Paul can avoid circus

By Ian Begley



Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony says he hasn't tried to recruit his friend Chris Paul to New York.

Paul, the New Orleans Hornets' All-Star point guard, reportedly has requested a trade to the Knicks.

"I'm not involved in that process. No way. That's a subject, a topic, that I don't want to touch. I don't want to deal with that," Anthony said after working out at the team's training facility on Thursday, the first day players are permitted to train at team facilities.

Anthony was the first Knick to arrive at their Greenburgh, N.Y., training center.

But instead of talking about the upcoming season, Anthony was bombarded with questions about Paul, his friend and U.S. Olympic teammate.

Yahoo! Sports reported on Thursday that Paul's agent has told the Hornets that Paul will not sign a contract extension and wants to be traded to the Knicks. The Times Picayune, citing two league sources, said that Paul hasn't demanded a trade to the Knicks.

Paul can opt out of his contract and test free agency after this season.

The situation Paul's facing is similar to what Anthony went through last year.

Anthony dealt with months of uncertainty about his future last season before being dealt from Denver to the Knicks. He doesn't want to see Paul go through the same scenario this season.

"That’s going to be a sensitive situation," Anthony said. "I don't want to see him go through that, because I know personally how that feels."

Anthony said he will not interfere with Paul's decision.

"We never had any conversations about him coming to New York," Anthony said. "That's something that I would leave up to him and him and his family and I'm staying away from that."

The Knicks star recognized that the speculation surrounding Paul isn't going away anytime soon, saying "the biggest discussion at the beginning of the season and the beginning of training camp" will center around the Hornet point guard's next move.

He's advised Paul on how to handle the decision -- and the drama surrounding it.

"One thing I did tell him was, 'Just make the best decision for you and your family.' He responded back that he knew. ... He saw what I went through last year," Anthony said. "And I'm pretty sure there's a certain part of him that don't want to deal with that."

"I don't think the NBA needs that right now," he added. "We just want to focus on -- especially the Knicks -- we just want to focus on what we need to focus on. Getting better, getting everybody back in the gym and preparing for our first game."

Anthony downplayed the notion of he and Paul teamming up in New York anytime soon. According to Anthony, the next time he'll play with Paul is in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

"Before that, I’m not even thinking about it," he said.

On Thursday, Anthony worked out alone under the watch of team trainers for about two hours. Afterward, he pronounced himself 100 percent healthy.

Shortly after last season, the eight-year veteran had simultaneous surgeries to repair nagging left knee and elbow injuries. Anthony returned to the court in August, playing in several exhibition games.

"I'm good, I'm healthy. As you can see, I'm in here today. As soon as they opened the doors up I was the first person in here today," said Anthony, who was joined at the Knicks' facility by guard Toney Douglas.

Anthony said that his elbow had been bothering him for the past six years. The ailment affected the follow-through on his jump shot.

"I was always jerking my shot," he said.

But the arthroscopic procedure relieved the pain in his elbow.

"I feel better this season than I've felt in a long long time," he said.

The Knicks acquired Anthony last February in a blockbuster three-team trade. In 27 regular season games in New York, Anthony averaged 26 points, 6.7 rebounds and three assists.

He helped the Knicks reached the playoffs for the first time since the 2003-04 season. They were swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics. Including the playoffs, the Knicks went 14-18 after acquiring Anthony.

The new players struggled to adjust to Mike D'Antoni's system on the fly and many mentioned that they'd need a full training camp to jell.

The start of training camp has been tentatively scheduled for Dec. 9, which gives the Knicks just 16 days to prepare for their Christmas Day opener.

Anthony said on Thursday that the Knicks would have enough time to prepare.

"It's not a full training camp but it’s a lot of time to get stuff done," Anthony said. "Get guys in, focus on the couple things we need to focus on and go from there and then we get better as the season goes on."

He acknowledged that the truncated 66-game schedule could take a physical toll on players. Schedules haven't been released, but the league announced each team will play at least one series of back-to-back-to-back games.

"It's a battle, it’s a fight and we have to prepare ourselves for that," Anthony said.

He added: "We might have five games in six nights and we as players, we've got to prepare ourselves mentally and figure it out as we go along."

Players and the league agreed on a proposal to end the lockout last Saturday. But both sides still need to ratify the agreement before teams can open for training camp.

Anthony believes the deal will be ratified by players.

"That’s just my opinion. I don’t think they would have opened the doors up and said all the stuff that they’re putting out there, training camp starting on the ninth, without having the chance to close this thing up," he said.

Anthony plans to work out at the training facility over the weekend.