He could be open to it, according to Damian Lillard.
“I didn’t want to press him,” Lillard said of Anthony this past weekend at his annual community picnic in Oakland.
The two-time All-Star and his backcourt mate C.J. McCollum have been trying to recruit Melo, who informed the Knicks he doesn’t want to return. However, Portland hasn’t been able to swing a deal for the 2013 scoring champ, since he holds a no-trade clause that he’d reportedly only waive to join the Houston Rockets.
As of last week, trade talks reportedly stalled because the Rockets lack the assets sought by the Knicks, who hope Anthony will expand his list of acceptable destinations. The Trail Blazers hope that happens, too, as they’re said to be very interested in the 33-year-old’s services.
Lillard’s comments about Anthony come less than two weeks after the Los Angeles Lakers were fined $ 500,000 for violating the NBA’s anti-tampering rule in an incident involving Paul George, who’s expected to hit free agency next summer.
However, the 2013 Rookie of the Year doesn’t consider his talks with Melo to be tampering.
“I ain’t a big fan of doing all the extra recruiting and all that stuff,” he said. “And I guess they call it tampering or whatever. It’s not against the rules for us to interact with each other. We all peers, we all play in the same league, and everybody hints at playing with each other.
“‘What you think about this? What do you think about that?’ All that matters is whether it got done or did not get done. Or hasn’t got done, and it hasn’t got done. So, it is what it is.”
For now, Anthony remains a Knick and could very well enter training camp later this month donning blue and orange, but that won’t stop Lillard from doing what he can to make his team better.
“I’m not giving up on anything,” he said. “I just think I’ve done what I can do. And camp is a few weeks away. And you have to focus on getting ready with who we are, plan on going in as we are. Whatever changes, the front office will be the ones making that change, with the Knicks and our front office or whatever. But I get my mind focused on what I can control at a certain point.”
After a rough start in 2016-17, the Trail Blazers experienced a late-season revival that saw them squeak into the playoffs, where they were swept by the Golden State Warriors. Lillard is focused on helping his team improve, especially defensively, in an effort to have more sustained success in the upcoming campaign, and noted his club “should be pretty good.”
And probably even better with Anthony.