The Orange and Blue Dilemma
The New York Knicks have become the latest Broadway show in Midtown Manhattan. The constant subliminal jabbing back and forth between Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony over the years has finally reached the point of no return. Tensions built up over the last month as the Knicks were struggling to pick up wins, losing 17 of their last 24 games since their 14-10 start. Drama started to plague the Knicks as a column by ex-Jackson assistant Charley Rosen targeted Anthony stating he “has outlived his usefulness in New York”. This marriage is over, as the Knicks are now actively engaged in trade talks with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and the Los Angeles Clippers to take the 9-time All-Star forward.
It is official as the Knicks made it clear: The Carmelo Anthony era in New York is over.
There’s plenty of reasons this marriage didn’t work, with plenty of blame to go around. Phil Jackson’s acquisitions and trades have not improved the Knicks. Jackson has made some pretty questionable moves since being hired the President of Basketball Operations. The Knicks have been a franchise who always chase players who are only a shell of themselves, completely erasing the thought of rebuilding around the draft lottery. Let’s take a look at some of the players the Knicks signed or traded for:
2010, Tracy McGrady – an aging T-Mac in which the Knicks gave up Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries, and a 2012 first-rounder. T-Mac ended up only averaging 9.6 points per game in 24 games.
2004, Penny Hardaway – Penny played in just 83 games for the Knicks in his 3 ½ years there. He averaged 8.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2 assists as a Knick.
2006, Jerome James – Isiah Thomas signed Jerome James to a five-year, $30 million contract (During that time, this amount for a player of his caliber was ridiculous) James ended up averaging 2.5 points and 1.8 rebounds in 90 games with the Knicks.
2006, Steve Francis – Once known as “Stevie Franchise” with the Houston Rockets, the Francis-Marbury backcourt experiment never worked for the Knicks as they were the highest-paid backcourt in the league then. Francis averaged 11.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 68 games with the Knicks.
2005, Eddy Curry – The Knicks acquired Curry, Antonio Davis, and a first-rounder that became Wilson Chandler for Jermaine Jackson, Mike Sweetney, Tim Thomas, two first-rounders, and two second-rounders. The two first-rounders ended up becoming LaMarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah. (Um….)
2004, Stephon Marbury – “Starbury” was actually a good NBA player. Was he troubled? Probably. Was he the best teammate? Probably not. But when he came to the Knicks in 2004 in a traded with the Suns, much was expected in the Big Apple. Marbury went through 5 coaches in his tenure with the Knicks and never made the playoffs again after the first year he got there. It was disappointing to say the least.
What do all these signings and trades have in common? The Knicks always go for the typical “Knick move”, moves in desperate attempt to please the city by getting players who are past their prime. Whether it was bad luck or bad decision-making on the front office, the city of New York never truly believed the Knicks were world-beaters.
New York will never forget how the Knicks traded Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, their 2016 first-round pick, and two future second-round picks for Andrea Bargnani. Yes, that really happened. Amare Stoudemire was a decent signing at first, but injuries derailed his career shortly after he was a Knick. Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah was brought here to form a “Super Team” with Carmelo, but look how that turned out so far.
Knicks Playoffs History via Basketball-Reference.com
Knicks fans have very little reason to smile nowadays. The Knicks belong to one of the biggest media markets in the world in New York, as the city will turn on you if you don’t succeed. New York booed Kristaps Porzingis on draft day until he won their hearts over with his play. The city of New York is tired of seeing mediocrity.
Does that mean trading Carmelo Anthony? Perhaps. Carmelo has 2 years left in his contract and is owed $53 million. Trading him will be hard. Trading him with his no-trade clause in his contract becomes even harder. However, it doesn’t mean you trade Carmelo Anthony for quarter of a dollar. You don’t trade Carmelo unless you get some assets in return. Carmelo Anthony is still Carmelo Anthony, a player who is still a great offensive player who can fit another team’s puzzle. Trading him to the Clippers without getting a capable star in return or decent draft picks would not make much sense. It certainly would not bond well with the fans of New York.
I loved watching Carmelo Anthony play in Denver. He was an assassin on the offensive end, a player who was a mismatch due to his quickness and shot-making ability for his size. In 2009, he went toe-to-toe with the great Kobe Bryant before losing in a 4-2 Conference Finals series. Carmelo Anthony is a great player, and he is who he is, a ball-stopping, volume-shooting scorer capable of flashes of brilliance. It’s unfair to compare him to his draft mates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, even though they were able to lead and make their teammates better, a leadership role that Carmelo was unsuccessful in. It’s perhaps bad fortune that Carmelo also never had the luxury of great Hall of Fame-worthy teammates. However, he couldn’t bring brilliance back to the Mecca. He couldn’t accomplish his goal on winning a championship in New York, his hometown. And with every passing day, it seems more unlikely unless he ends up with his buddy LeBron James. After signing a $124 million contract with the Knicks in July 2014, the Knicks never made it to the postseason. In the end, Melo’s legacy as a Knick was that he was never able to bring Knicks success.
Solution? The ideal practical solution is to hold on to Carmelo for the rest of the season, hoping he builds his trade value back up as you may be able to find another team in the summer interested in trading for Carmelo. Perhaps you ask Carmelo to waive his no-trade clause, which would be unlikely. Perhaps James Dolan just blow it up and fire Phil Jackson. The Knicks are not likely to make much noise even if they somehow reach the postseason, so losing any more games for the lottery isn’t the worst thing that can happen. The Knicks need to reset. They need to rebuild. Knicks have to think long-term with a young stud in Porzingis. It’s time to give the fans a sense of direction of where the franchise is heading. A glimmer of hope. They need to start from scratch so in 3-4 years when Porzingis reaches his prime, the Knicks will be fun again.