GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Carmelo Anthony sees the future of the NBA with rookies Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis set to square off Wednesday night. But Anthony also can’t help but think of his own future with old adversary Kevin Garnett visiting the Garden.
Garnett, 39, is nearing the end of a Hall of Fame career that has come full circle. It started in Minnesota, and he’s back there serving as a veteran mentor to Towns, Andrew Wiggins and the other young Timberwolves. It wasn’t that long ago that Garnett was a Celtic and a thorn in the sides of Anthony and the Knicks.
“That’s a guy who put a lot of miles into this league and did a lot of things, put a dent on this game,” Anthony said after Tuesday’s practice. “I don’t even know what’s going through his head right now. I’m pretty sure I’ll be in that situation in years to come. But I can’t even think about it. The only thing I think about when I see Garnett and those guys: an era coming to an end.”
Anthony then rattled off names of other graybeards who are likely to retire in the near future: Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Vince Carter and Paul Pierce. It put Anthony’s own NBA mortality in front of him.
“That era is about to come to an end,” he said. “That means we’re up next. That’s the only thing I watch and picture.”
Anthony, 31, who has three years remaining on his contract, has said he believes he will be able to play at a high level into his late 30s.
But it’s too early to know whether Anthony will go a different route later in his career and chase a championship somewhere else if Knicks president Phil Jackson doesn’t assemble a title contender in the next couple of years.
The Knicks believe they have a new foundation player in Porzingis, much in the way Minnesota thinks it has two in Wiggins and Towns. Wiggins was the NBA Rookie of the Year last year; Towns and Porzingis are the early favorites for the award this season.
“That matchup,” Anthony said, “that’s going to be here for a while — Porzingis and Karl-Anthony Towns.”
Towns, the No. 1 overall pick, is slightly ahead of Porzingis in the Rookie of the Year race, at least statistically.
Towns came into Tuesday second among rookies in scoring (14.9), first in rebounding (9.2) and blocks (2.17) and tied with Porzingis for first with 10 double-doubles. Porzingis is third in scoring (13.6), second in rebounding (8.4) and second in blocks (1.80).
Porzingis’ numbers dipped a bit during the Knicks’ recent three-game trip when he totaled 17 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks and admitted afterward he felt run down.
“I’m excited,” Porzingis said. “I’d like to play against him. I know he’s having a good season. He’s really playing at a good level and it’s going to be fun to play against him.”
Anthony said “there’s no comparison” between Towns and Porzingis because they’re “two different style of players.” Anthony also isn’t surprised how Towns has expanded his game after playing one year at Kentucky under John Calipari.
“I think Cal’s been keeping them guys under the wraps for a reason,” Anthony said. “Look at Anthony Davis. There’s a lot of those guys that are over there, they become totally different players. Not saying they’re not great players in college, but when they get to the pros their game just expands.”
Carmelo honored. Anthony received the November NBA Cares Community Assist Award for his generosity and dedication to empowering children and families in need.