Carmelo Anthony

With every loss, Carmelo Anthony distances himself even further from a future with the New York Knicks. That perceived sense of urgency to keep him coming the front office doesn’t seem to be translating very well into coaching or the players.

Has this team quit? It sure looks like it. They’ve now lost seven games in a row, and have gone 2-13 since the beginning of February. Those four consecutive wins at the end of January look like they happened in a different city, to a different team.

Anthony enjoyed watching signs urging him to play for the Bulls next season when the Knicks lost by 19 points in the Windy City. A player committed to a future in New York wouldn’t have said he actually likes what he sees. Anthony has said time and time again that his first option, favorite potential choice, is remaining with the Knicks.

(Some Brilliant Amare Defense)

But with so many losses piling up, and the playoffs looking like much more than just a distant dream, there’s really no reason for Anthony to stay. Anthony wants and needs to win now, but that’s impossible with this current roster. Yes, falling apart so quickly wasn’t something anyone anticipated – the Knicks won more than 50 games last season, and even if they didn’t really improve by adding Andrea Bargnani, no one predicted that so many players aside from Anthony were going to decline.

And the Knicks can’t improve. They have Anthony, no draft picks and a lot of bad contracts, with only two players who are prospects to build on, although the Shumpert promise seems to be fading away as well. So Tim Hardaway Jr. is all they have in the department of players who might be better next season.

That’s why Anthony leaving is going to be such a blow. An ownership that allegedly only cares about money and looking good through their own media outlets will care about star power leaving. If Anthony goes they still don’t have the cap space to make anything work, and lose the one player that actually makes them remotely relevant to people outside New York.

Maybe that is what happens when a team decides to replace their general manager after a 54-win season. Maybe this is what happens when James Dolan insists on calling the shots without them having anything to do with basketball and the welfare of the team.

Mike Woodson might not be the greatest head coach in the world, but he probably doesn’t deserve to have the blame of this season fall on his head. He is a big part of the problem and will be let go at the end of the season (although you never know in Dolan’s regime what can happen; look up Isiah Thomas), but the players themselves have been horrendous, looking worse and worse with every L that’s added to the standings.

Anthony was called out by George Karl this week, someone who knows a thing or two about Anthony. His leadership, his demeanor – they’re not enough to get a team out of this mess, and to do more than Anthony has in the NBA in terms of team success, making it past the first round of the playoffs only twice so far. This year is going to be the first time he’s ever failed to lead a team into the playoffs, and will mean he’ll elsewhere, without a certainty of actually finding a place where he can both be himself and contend for championships, while the Knicks will become irrelevant once more, like they were for most of the previous decade.

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