Anthony, Knicks set to face Cavs hours after deadline

CLEVELAND — What a day for the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks to be scheduled for a game.

Trade deadline day.

The Cavs host the Knicks at 8 p.m. EST on Thursday in the first game for both teams following the All-Star break. The contest also will tip off five hours after the NBA’s trade deadline, when franchises need to have informed the league office about the swaps they made.

Forward Carmelo Anthony gone from the Knicks? To the Cavs? For forward Kevin Love?

Probably not now, though it was once a hot story when trade season started in earnest. It made the Cavs-Knicks game Thursday even juicier.

Both teams could be active before the deadline, even if it’s not the Carmelo-to-the-Cavs deal that would turn the NBA on its ear.

Cleveland has been getting offers for guard Iman Shumpert. The Knicks could trade guard Derrick Rose.

“Never” is simply not applicable until 3:01 p.m., when the deadline has passed.

“Yeah there’s rumors, rumors all the time,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “You wish you could trade and get all the people you say you can get, but it never happens.”

Cleveland was a potential destination for Anthony, the 12-time All-Star who has a close relationship with LeBron James and hasn’t won a championship. However, the Cavs do not want to trade the injured Love for him and are waiting out the Knicks in the event that New York grows desperate to move Anthony’s $24.6 million salary and considers taking back role players.

Anthony has a no-trade clause, and he said he is “relaxed” about his status with the Knicks because no one has approached him with a potential trade to approve, according to the New York Daily News.

“I’m in a Melo state of mind right now,” Anthony said, according to the Daily News. “I think both parties are very much understanding of each other — myself and the (Knicks) front office. I think they know and understand how I feel and what I’m thinking, and I think I know what they’re thinking. I try to figure that out. But those guys understand and know how I’m feeling, what’s on my mind, and what I would like to see happen.”

The Cavs (39-16) return from the All-Star break in first place in the East, leading the Boston Celtics by three games. Cleveland is the hottest team in the NBA in February with a 7-1 record, and the Cavs have defeated the Knicks nine consecutive times.

New York (23-34) is four games out of the eighth seed in the East. It is conceivable the Knicks could make a run toward the playoffs, and maybe even play the Cavs in the first round. But a trade of Anthony, however small the possibility, or Rose could signal a rebuild for team president Phil Jackson.

The Cavs are trying to go to their third consecutive Finals (seventh straight for James), so any move they make would be to build. If Shumpert goes, it would have to be for a player who makes them better.

“I like our team, I love our team, I love what Shump’s done for us these last three years,” Lue said. “For me, (dealing him) is not going to happen.”