NEW YORK -- With hundreds of boxes of food sitting behind them ready to be distributed to Brooklyn families, LeBron James and his famous friends were determined to stay on message.
More than two dozen media members crowded around James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul on Tuesday, and question after question came about the NBA with a tentative deal in place to end the lockout.
Will Paul leave New Orleans to join Anthony with the Knicks? Are the new rules designed to prevent stars from abandoning smaller-market teams as James and Anthony did?
"As far as the ins and outs about the deal, we won't discuss today," James said. "We're going to discuss about how excited I am, how excited we are, about the game of basketball being back and about all the people who have been out of jobs and the fans who have been out of watching basketball for the 140-plus days from the lockout. It's a great moment for all of us."
Paul can become a free agent after this season, and the new agreement would still allow the Hornets to send him to another team through a sign-and-trade deal to get something in return if it appears he's determined to leave. New York has been his long-rumored destination.
Paul insisted "my heart is in New Orleans."
"Ah, man, I have no idea about that different type stuff," he said. "I think right now the thing I'm most focused on is getting all these boxes out of my house in North Carolina and getting everything shipped back to New Orleans so I can get ready for the season."
Paul was in New York -- at a community center in Brooklyn -- for this day to help distribute 800 meals to local families through Anthony's foundation in conjunction with Feed the Children and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
"These guys are not even from around here, they don't even play here, but they came back to somebody else's community to give back, and I think that should be the topic of discussion today," Anthony said.
No such luck.
Anthony was asked about the scandal swirling at his alma mater, Syracuse, where longtime assistant Bernie Fine was fired after molestation allegations and coach Jim Boeheim has heard calls to resign.
"My heart goes out to the families. I have no comment about the Fine situation or the Boeheim situation," Anthony said. "That's a sensitive situation, a sensitive topic right now that I don't even want to go into."
NBA players and owners reached a handshake agreement early Saturday, and the four stars said Tuesday they were hopeful their counterparts would vote to approve the deal. Games would start on Christmas, including Boston at New York and Miami at Dallas.
Somebody noted that James' and Wade's Heat had longer than normal to stew after losing in the finals. Wade agreed, though Paul interjected: "Not as long as us." Indeed, the Hornets and Knicks each lost in the first round of the playoffs.
"We're excited about another opportunity," Wade said of his Miami team that so polarized fans after James and Chris Bosh joined him there. "Hopefully everyone stays healthy and we just get an opportunity to come out every night and put our best team on the court and see what we get."
Weighty expectations also confront Anthony and the Knicks -- with or without Paul -- after he was traded from Denver during last season.
"We had a short run last year," Anthony said. "And now we get a training camp together. We get time to jell."