Anthony hopes friend Paul joins Knicks

With the NBA’s tampering rules not in effect during the lockout, Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is free to openly profess his desire to have his friend Chris Paul playing alongside him at Madison Square Garden.

Anthony has spent a lot of this summer hanging with Paul, a four-time All-Star, even playing on his team during barnstorming exhibitions.

"If it works out and he comes here and they allow him to come here, you’ll see a smile from ear to ear," Anthony said during an appearance in New York City’s Greenwich Village Thursday. "It’s not just me. It’s everybody [in New York]. If he decides to leave New Orleans and goes somewhere else, they’ll be feeling the same way I’m feeling."

Paul can be a free agent in 2012, and the Knicks could have enough cap room to sign him, pending the new salary-cap figure.

Anthony traveled to China with Paul and was on his team in Miami for the South Florida Classic two weeks ago and in Winston-Salem, N.C., earlier this month when Paul staged an exhibition in his hometown. If the lockout drags on, they are expected to be teammates around Thanksgiving when Anthony stages a New York area all-star exhibition, possibly at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

"It’s fun," Anthony said of playing with Paul. "He’s such a competitor, even in games we play now. He wants the games to be NBA games — the intensity level. He wants everybody to go out and compete. It’s something I’ve really enjoyed."

Anthony acknowledged Paul has spent a lot of time in New York during the lockout, and not just because he’s one of the union’s negotiating committee members. He also maintained he does not lobby the 26-year-old Paul directly about coming to the Knicks.

"He spent a lot of time here last year too but people weren’t hearing about it because there was a lot of [other stuff] going on," Anthony said. "But we don’t talk about [the Knicks] … I’m not one to blow smoke up your [butt]. If I was talking to Chris about coming to New York, I’d tell you. It’s a sensitive situation for him. I stay away from it and we have fun."

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