The New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony, as always, are in an odd place.
The scoring forward probably didn’t want to return to New York in a basketball sense last summer, but because the Knicks could offer him more money than anyone else and because New York City is such a fantastic place to live, Anthony couldn’t turn the Knicks down.
Knicks president Phil Jackson probably doesn’t see Anthony as his pushing-31 star to build around in his long-term rebuilding process, but presumably because he thinks that it’s hard to gain capital and draw free agents without a big name already in place, Jackson had to toss Anthony as much money as he could.
Both sides got what they wanted. For Anthony, it was money and the enhancement of his whatever-the-hell-this-means brand. For Jackson, it was a star in place while he built his new Knick culture from the ground up.
On the court, nobody has gotten what they wanted nor asked for. The Knicks have started the season on a 5-28 tear, they failed to crack 80 points in a loss to Portland on Sunday night and the squad is the third-worst defensive outfit in the league. On top of all that, Anthony’s long-ago admitted knee woes forced the team to pull him from action late in Sunday’s loss.
“The more I was running and jumping toward the end of the second quarter, I tried to get an offensive rebound, then run back,’’ Anthony said. “I looked at coach: ‘Come get me. Come get me.’ But there was no timeout or ball stoppage. I played out the rest of the quarter. I came in there. He saw me in the back. He told me to sit out the second half.’’
“He told me don’t even try,’’ Anthony added. “It’s not even worth it. Just sit out and get treatment I need for today and focus on these next couple of days.’’
The further course of action – New York plays on Wednesday in Los Angeles against the Clippers – appears to be up in the air. From the New York Daily News:
“Eventually it will be a point where they will come to me and we’ll sit down and say this is a point in time where we need to fix this or figure out the next steps,” he said.
"That's a question I keep asking," he said. "Could it get worse? Could it worsen? It can't get worse. It's just a matter of what I can take and what I can't."
Though Anthony has been understandably complaining about his left knee woes for weeks, he also cited tired legs as part of the reason he couldn’t get his game together on the second night of a brutal back-to-back. The Knicks lost to Sacramento in overtime on Saturday night before flying up to Oregon to take on a fantastic Portland Trail Blazers club.
“I don’t think it was so much of the soreness than it was more the fatigue of not really getting a chance to recover from (Saturday) night,” Anthony said of an overtime loss at Sacramento. “Like today my leg was feeling heavy and weak.”
Carmelo is just fine in pointing out that he had absolutely no gas in the take on Sunday evening – he did put up 36 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in the loss on Saturday – but knee woes created by overuse from 30-year old superstars that have been go-to scorers in the NBA for the last 11-plus years tend not to go away on their own, or in between games.
This is what makes a quote like this from Knick coach Derek Fisher, and an intelligent and studied inference from a Knick scribe to follow, all the more deadening:
Asked Fish if there's a point where it makes more sense to shut Melo down. "Weve expressed our opinions to Carmelo" but ultimately up to him
— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) December 29, 2014
This shouldn’t be up to Carmelo Anthony.
The days of things being up to Carmelo Anthony should be over. This was the change that was supposed to take place when Phil Jackson came to town, a move away from the Carmelo-obsessed machinations that drove James Dolan to override his respected former general manager in Donnie Walsh in dealing for Anthony just because Carmelo wanted to get a big contract before the lockout hit. This sort of star-powered nonsense was supposed to hit the bricks when Phil Jackson and Clarence Gaines Jr. – who rightfully are paying as much attention to 2017 as they are the last days of 2014 – came into town to clean shop.
Carmelo Anthony’s presence was never going to be the reason free agents signed with the Knicks. As it was when Amar’e Stoudemire signed with a terrible Knick team and Anthony forced his way toward a mediocre Knick squad, the only reason anyone was ever going to push their way to New York was to make as much money as possible while playing out of a fantastic place like New York City.
Hoping Carmelo’s presence could push the Knicks toward a mediocre record in time to sell a free agent on Madison Square Garden is pathetic. The superstar free agent class of 2015 and (probably) 2016 is most likely staying put with their current teams. The second-level possible stars that could move to New York would do so anyway for the money and for the exposure. They don’t need Carmelo Anthony playing on one leg in December and January to put their candidacy over the top come July.
Carmelo Anthony’s presence, through a tiny (but far from overwhelming) fault of his own, has only led the Knicks to a 5-28 record so far. There’s no guarantee that sitting him in the winter of 2014-15 will help Anthony be worth the nearly $102 million he’s owed after this season and until 2019, but it certainly might help this year and the next.
Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony tried to have it both ways, and the results have been typical. Nobody expected the Knicks to be this bad as 2014 rounds into 2015, but this terrible start is far from shocking when considering the terms behind this uneasy alliance, the injuries, and this miserable roster. One can understand if Carmelo doesn’t want to look like he’s jumping ship at the absolute lowest point in his team’s ebb.
If Anthony is hurting this much, though, he has to take time off. For once, he’s not the biggest star in the Knicks’ media guide. Even a self-promoter like Phil Jackson needs to be reminded of that before doing what’s right, and telling Carmelo to sit.
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