Born, bred and college-educated in Queens, Moe Harkless has firm roots in Knicks territory, an upward-trending NBA career and is now part of the never-ending Carmelo Anthony trade cycle.
Still, as the Trail Blazers forward explained to the Daily News on Saturday, he doesn’t concern himself with the persistent rumors that he’s included in trade proposals to the Knicks. There’s no benefit.
“It doesn’t do anything for me to get involved with that,” he said. “If it happens, it happens.”
Instead, Harkless is spending this weekend back home directing his inaugural “Skills Academy” camp at the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens, a program the St. John’s product is co-hosting with management agency Gotham Hoops. On the final day of camp Sunday, Harkless will give away school supplies to the 64 student-athletes in attendance — many of whom serve as a reminder to the 24-year-old about his own upbringing in South Jamaica.
“I wanted to make sure I had the camp here,” Harkless said. “I was just like the kids in the camp.”
For now, Harkless’ NBA team couldn’t be further away than Portland, a solid six-hour plane ride from LGA to PDX where he’s found stability in his career. From a trade dump in Orlando to starting on a playoff team with the Blazers, Harkless averaged over 10 points last season on 50 percent shooting while demonstrating improved 3-point range.
This was after he fell out of the rotation on a terrible team in Orlando.
“In Orlando we were kind of rebuilding. Coach (Jacque Vaughn) got fired and everything like that,” Harkless said. “In Portland, the system was already in place and the organization is run really well. So I’m in a comfortable situation for me.”
The improvement is also why he’s been part of trade proposals involving Carmelo Anthony, according to sources, both in straight swap talks and three-team negotiations where Anthony would end up in Houston. In both instances, Harkless goes to New York.
Just entering his prime on a friendly contract (three years and about $ 31 million remaining), Harkless is an enticing option who also plays Anthony’s position. However, any path to a deal is ripe with hurdles — starting with Anthony’s resistance to waiving his no-trade clause for Portland, and the Trail Blazers’ reluctance to be involved as a third team to send Anthony to Houston.
The Blazers backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have been actively and publicly recruiting Anthony, which could be awkward if it means they’re pining for Harkless’ replacement. But apparently there are no hard feelings — Harkless said he planned on working out with McCollum this weekend in NYC.
McCollum, coincidentally, was spotted training with Carmelo last week in Manhattan.
Despite his rough time in Orlando, Harkless said he developed a strong relationship with the Magic’s former assistant GM Scott Perry — who was recently introduced as the Knicks GM.
After three seasons in Orlando, the Magic dealt Harkless for a protected second-round pick.
“(Perry and I) had a really good relationship. We still have a good relationship. We actually spoke not too long ago. We talk all the time,” Harkless said. “He’s a real down-to-Earth guy, a real dude. He doesn’t really sugar coat stuff. So I think that’s why players take a liking to him.”