For the New York Knicks, this season was going to mark the beginning of something special, or at the very least, a return to the land of league-wide relevance.
Barely three months into the season, it’s safe to say that the high-priced overhaul spearheaded by team president Phil Jackson is an undeniable disaster. But rather than cutting ties with one of the newcomers or adding some help ahead of next month’s trade deadline, the Knicks are shopping their superstar, and it looks like Carmelo Anthony’s time in New York is about to come to a very sudden end.
Unbelievably, New York’s ongoing free-fall probably wouldn’t have led the Knicks to actively shop Anthony if he hadn’t chosen to do a little leisurely reading. Last week, Anthony voiced his displeasure over an article written by columnist and Jackson biographer Charley Rosen that essentially concluded that it was time for the Knicks to get rid of the nine-time all-star.
Like an angry adolescent, Jackson needlessly came to the aid of his confidant, deciding that Anthony’s criticism somehow meant that he suddenly wanted out. Despite restating his desire to remain in New York while meeting with The Zen Master, trade-related rumors have been hogging the headlines ever since.
After meeting with Jackson to restate his commitment to the Knicks, Anthony repeated the process with the media.
“I’m committed. I don’t have to prove that to anybody,” said Anthony. “I don’t think I have to keep saying that. I don’t think I have to keep talking about that. I know for a fact that people see that.”
During his first three years in New York, Anthony delivered a trio of consecutive playoff appearances, however, the Knicks have been couch surfing come playoff time in each of the last three years, and Anthony has become a somewhat stationary jump-shooter who takes too many shots and plays a ton of one-on-one basketball while defensively contributing very little.
Last Friday’s win over the Charlotte Hornets painted a fairly accurate picture of the player Anthony is today. While he scored a team-high 18 points in the victory, Anthony shot a nauseating 8-26 from the field and a useless 1-7 from long-range. His 11 rebounds—all defensive, nearly doubled his average of 6.2 boards per game, but Anthony also finished without a single assist, no steals, and only one block while playing shaky defense and hearing it from the home crowd.
That’s the player that the Knicks re-signed to a monster, five-year contract extension in the summer of 2014. In terms of production, the 22.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game that Anthony is currently averaging aren’t far from his career marks of 24.8 points and 6.8 rebounds a night. And as we saw during Sunday’s four-overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks in which he finished with a season-high 45 points and scored the game-tying bucket at the end of regulation, Anthony can still carry this team.
But trading Anthony suddenly seems to be the only thing that Jackson’s Knicks are willing to do to turn things around. Logistically, dealing Anthony to a team he’d actually waive his no-trade clause for won’t be easy, and a litany of variables make it almost impossible for the Knicks to get fair market value for their resident superstar.
While Anthony is one of only three players to have a no-trade clause that allows him to veto any potential deal, he admitted that he’d consider leaving if the Knicks want to move on.
“I think it will be more on the front office,” said Anthony. “I have the power, but still I would talk to them. We would be in communication if they feel like they want to go in a different direction, they want to start rebuilding for the future. If they tell me they want to scrap this whole thing, yeah, I have to consider it.”
So far, New York has failed to talk any team into trading for Anthony—a fact that says a lot about his value beyond the five boroughs. The Cleveland Cavaliers were nowhere near interested in a Anthony for Kevin Love swap, the L.A. Clippers aren’t willing to part with a single member of their three-headed monster, and the Boston Celtics took the time to tell the Knicks that they’re not interested before an offer was even made.
The potential three-team deal that the Clippers are reportedly attempting to orchestrate is the only rumored option that might appeal to Anthony—and thus far, the best chance the Knicks have to get a player who’d actually help them now. Unfortunately, at worst, Anthony is only part of the problem, and if the Knicks really want to move forward, saying goodbye to both Anthony and Jackson is the only way.