With training camp on the horizon, the New York Knicks will be heading into camp with a transformed roster. With guards Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings, and Courtney Lee, and center Joakim Noah hopping aboard, the Knicks will be much improved on both ends of the floor; however, as always, their success will rely heavily on the face of the franchise, Carmelo Anthony. After a year where he experienced a decline in his production, Anthony has a lot to play for and prove this season; he has to prove that he’s still an elite player, and leader by getting the Knicks out of the first round of the playoffs; however, if he can’t do that, Anthony needs to be traded.
Carmelo Anthony’s Status with the Knicks
The Decline of the Knicks
In his five and a half year tenure with the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony has had moments of brilliance, but moments of immense failure as well. In 2013, Anthony won the NBA scoring title, and led the Knicks to a 54 win season, which was second in the Eastern Conference behind the Miami Heat; however, the Knicks haven’t made the playoffs since. In the year that followed their breakout season, the Knicks recorded only 37 wins, missing the playoffs, and the same went for the 2015 campaign, but it was more significant. In the 2015 season, the Knicks underwent the worst season in franchise history, recording only 17 wins.
In the off-season, they drafted rookie forward Kristaps Porzingis from Latvia (who now appears to be a budding star), and signed multiple veterans. Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams, and Kyle O’Quinn were among the players brought aboard to create what appeared to be a very depth team; however, despite what it appeared to be, the Knicks still only won 32 wins, missing the playoffs for the third straight year.
The last three seasons have been a disaster in New York, and while he has been the best player on their roster the last three years, Carmelo Anthony has been apart of the decline of the franchise.
Reasons to Doubt Anthony
After their playoff run in 2013, Anthony entered a contract year in which he needed to prove that he was a max contract player, and he did just that by filling up the stat sheet on a 37 win team. It was speculated among some that Anthony’s play may have been self centered to up his free agent value, and while there is no actual truth to that belief, it’s not the craziest notion.
At the end of the day, Anthony got his max money, and stayed in New York after mulling the possibility of bolting for the Chicago Bulls to play with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah (who’re now both Knicks), but he later claimed that he has thought about what it would be like if he had bolted for Chicago. A statement that can easily be blown out of proportion, but a statement that still shows that Anthony may not be completely committed to the franchise.
Anthony raised more doubt about his drive to win in New York this summer at the Rio Olympics. He claimed that if his career were to end now it would be a success knowing that he won three gold medals, but not an NBA title, and while that, like his comment about the Bulls, can be blown out of proportion, it sends mixed messages to the Knicks organization. Anthony may, or may not be on aboard with Phil Jackson, and the Knicks, but regardless he still deserves credit for his on court contributions, especially with the mentoring of Kristaps Porzingis.
Anthony’s Impact on Porzingis
Last season, Porzingis proved all of his doubters wrong, with his high flying, shot blocking, and shooting abilities; it caught most of the NBA by surprise, and Anthony’s presence was a big part of his success. From day one, Anthony said he was going to be Porzingis’s ‘big brother and have his back; Anthony was true to his word. Last season, Anthony always had Porzingis’ back, and supported him through rough patches of the seasons, especially when he appeared to hit a rookie wall.
Anthony and Porzingis have proved to be a potentially formidable duo in the NBA, and the Knicks can’t afford to put that potential at risk. With the acquisition of Derrick Rose, the Knicks now have the scoring point guard that they have been craving for. The issue, is that Rose is a ball dominant point guard, which may or may not have a negative impact on Carmelo Anthony because of Anthony’s aggressive play. If Anthony can adjust to Rose’s style of play, while still playing his game, the Knicks offense can be lethal, but the flip side of that is dangerous. If Anthony can’t adjust to Rose’s style of play, he may generate the habit of always shooting when he touches the ball, due to fewer touches than he’s used to getting; this selfish play will affect Rose, but it will most notably have a negative impact on Porzingis’s growth as a player.
Porzingis taking the next step in his game is crucial to the Knicks success this year, but if he gets little to no touches offensively, the Knicks may face a roadblock. They can’t afford to have Rose and Anthony budding heads, and have Porzingis take a step back in his production, it would be disastrous. The balance between Anthony, Rose, and Porzingis will either make or break the Knicks this season.
No Excuses, Just Wins
The last three seasons have been a train wreck for the Knicks. With three disappointing seasons under three different coaches, the Knicks roster and team chemistry has been hectic; however, this season is a different situation.
The additions of Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings, Courtney Lee, and Joakim Noah will give the Knicks much needed help on both ends of the floor. Those four put together with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis give the Knicks a new identity, and also give Anthony no more excuses.
In 2014, Anthony was in a contract year trying to play his way into a max contract; in 2015, Anthony underwent season ending knee surgery, and witnessed the Knicks tank the season to get a top draft pick, and last season Anthony put his personal game to the side a bit to assist Porzingis in his growth as a player. Those were all legitimate excuses for Anthony, but this year there are none. He’s getting his money, is healthy, and has a formidable unit around him.
If Anthony can’t get the Knicks out of the first round of the playoffs this season, he needs to be traded.