Carmelo Anthony occupies an odd spot with the rebuilding New York Knicks. The 31-year-old star is at a point in his career where he must consider chasing immediate success, but the franchise appears focused on building for the future with youngsters like rookies Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant. What can an established player like Anthony do in such a situation? Should he go after his numbers and hope for an exit? Or would it make more sense to buy into the organization's new plan so that it can reach its apex sooner rather than later?
For now, at least, Melo seems ready to jump into the rebuilding process. In fact, he wants to be an example for the young players. And he will do that by being made an example in front of them any time he makes a mistake. From Ian Begley for ESPN.com:
"Call it out in the film session so everybody can see that and hear that. By them doing that, it kind of forces me to be at the top level of my game on both ends of the court," Anthony said after the Knicks' 94-88 preseason victory over the Sixers on Monday. "I think it brings the best out of me and if you bring the best out of me, I think it will bring the best out of everyone on the team."
Anthony said past coaches have held him accountable in different ways. He mentioned Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and George Karl, who coached Anthony in Denver, by name. But he said things are different with the Knicks this season because it's not just Derek Fisher calling out players' mistakes.
"It's more of a collective unit," Anthony said. "... We're just sitting down with [members of the coaching staff and video department] and sitting down with players on the team kind of going through different scenarios, different situations and just kind of wanting to be held accountable out there."
Melo has never been known as an especially adept defender, so it's a fair bet that most of these moments will involve mistakes at that end. Of course, the Knicks provided plenty of opportunities for criticism at both ends in 2014-15, when they ranked 29th in points scored per 100 possessions and 28th in points allowed per 100 possessions. Maybe Knicks coaches will also tell Anthony when he shouldn't have held the ball for half a shot clock. And don't forget about Turtles by Melo.
[Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]
Specific errors aside, it's laudable that Melo decided that he had to make himself accountable to the coaching staff and his teammates. While it's not controversial to criticize his performance relative to the rest of the NBA elite, Anthony still boasts eight All-Star selections, six All-NBA appearances, and two Olympic gold medals, all of which should make him a cinch for a Hall of Fame spot. It would be very easy for him to hold himself above his far less accomplished teammates and insist that they are holding him back. Instead, he wants to help create a more professional culture at Madison Square Garden.
The challenge for Melo will be to carry this mindset into the regular season, when the Knicks' struggles may become more difficult to endure. Let's check back in late November to see where things stand.
- - - - - - -