The New York Knicks have Carmelo Anthony until the end of this season. After that? The interesting mixed messages from Anthony and another disappointing season from the Knicks, among other more basketball related issues, makes it seem like any kind of trade talk does make some sort of sense, although it isn’t easy to pull off.
The Knicks stopped their losing by beating the Detroit Pistons, with Anthony scoring 24 points. He’s averaging 21.7 points a game in his 13th NBA season, and he’ll be out of the playoffs for the third consecutive year, after not missing it a single time during his first decade in the league. Anthony has mentioned his frustration, and not envy, when he looks at some of his peers, and in terms of publicity or how some of the fans view him, will always have the problem of simply not being LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.
But it’s more than just a player trying to find out where he went wrong in his career. Many see the Knicks next step in moving forward being clear and simple: Moving on from Anthony. Even if he does put in an effort on defense or more than before; even if he isn’t as selfish as a basketball player as he once was; even if he really doesn’t mind the attention Kristaps Porzingis is getting; Anthony as the team’s leading man seems to be a hindrance rather than a blessing. Anthony as a #1 player isn’t going to win an NBA championship.
Going back to the trade he pushed for in 2011 in order to put himself and his wife back in New York is useless. So is analyzing why he chose to stay with the Knicks and re-sign with them instead of going to a team with a better shot of winning a championship. What does matter is whether or not the Knicks can move if they wish to do so, and how’s it going to play out? Because while Anthony is still a star and All-Star caliber player in terms of basketball level, there are things in the way.
Can the Knicks get a first round pick, a close-to-star player and whoever else is needed in order to make the salaries match from someone? Probably. Anthony does have a deal that isn’t easy on the salary cap ($24.6 million in 2016-2017, $26.2 million in 2017-2018, $27.9 million in 2018-2019 with an ETO) but the new rise in the cap could make it possible to work something out. There is the 15% trade kicker issue, complicating things.
Maybe there’s truth to the rumor that Anthony can’t leave New York because of his family and especially his wife, who doesn’t want to live anywhere else. And while we love to brand anyone who fails to win a championship as a loser and worse, there’s nothing wrong with the career Anthony has had. But for someone who looks hungry to win a title or at least contend for one when he speaks about it, his actions when making career decisions point to the opposite, with comfort and money, which there’s nothing wrong with, being at the top of his priority list.