The New York Knicks, or the managing the team for the last few years, have pretty much made it clear they don’t want Carmelo Anthony anymore. The Indiana Pacers would love to hold on to Paul George till the end of time, but their franchise player might not want to stay on board much longer.
Two different cases but the end result might be the same: The teams trading away their franchise players. For the Knicks, it might be something they should have done years ago. Anthony landed a 5-year deal when it made more sense to refuse him the extension and start something new, just as Phil Jackson was taking over as the president of basketball operations. Anthony has a no-trade clause, and while the Knicks wanted to move him before the deadline two months ago, there were no actual buyers, or at least not the teams that Anthony wanted to play for.
Jackson said last week that the Knicks and Anthony are better off apart. He didn’t use the exact words, but there was no masking his intention. Anthony responded with a mocking post on social media, and TMZ grabbed the headlines with Anthony’s name, stating he and his wife are splitting up (we’ll get to that in a second), and that he also impregnated a woman who works at a New York City gentlemen’s club.
What’s significant about that, besides the turmoil it puts on the 10-time NBA All-Star? Whether or not he got someone pregnant isn’t the big deal here (although it might explain Anthony’s decline). However, many believed that his wife was the reason behind Anthony re-signing with the Knicks despite his desire to win titles and better options (contention-wise, not financially) on other teams. If they split up, he might agree to trades and leaving New York. Anthony is signed through next season, and has an ETO on the 2018-2019 season.
While the Knicks continue to try and push the troubled Anthony away, the Pacers are dealing with other issues. They’ve just lost two close games to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs. The bigger picture is that they’re going to get bounced in the postseason, first round, for a second straight year, which means no playoff series win since 2014, the year they finished with the best record in the East, and George looked on his way to challenge for the title of best player in the NBA. He still is one of the best, but breaking his leg in the summer of 2014, preparing for the basketball world championship, halted him, and broke the Pacers apart. Maybe his affair with the girlfriend of a teammate didn’t help, but that’s rumors. The fact is that the Pacers never recovered from his injury and Lance Stephenson foolishly bolting. The Pacers rebuilt a team around George, but it might not be good enough to win anything, nor good enough to keep him happy.
Two losses, and after both of them George had something to say. After game 1, he complained about C.J. Miles taking the final shot instead of himself (Despite being double teamed, far away from the basket and giving up the ball himself to Miles in the final possession). After the game 2 loss, he called out his teammates for their demeanor, and especially Stephenson, who isn’t playing half-bad, but no one in Indiana is keeping up with what George is doing on the court, which in the end isn’t enough against the firepower of the Cavaliers.
George, like Anthony, is guaranteed through next season and has a player option for the 2018-2019 season, which gives him leverage to start pulling the strings for a trade. Unlike Anthony leaving the Knicks, this doesn’t present an opportunity. Instead, it guarantees the Pacers entering an undetermined tanking and rebuilding stage and possibly worse, it could push Larry Bird out of his seat, as he might not have the patience to build this team into a contender once again.