It’s silly season with the NBA trade deadline on approach, meaning it was just a matter of time before the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony entered the conversation.
Honestly, this looked like a year in which Anthony’s name finally wouldn’t come up near the deadline. Phil Jackson has done an incredible job building the roster and just a few weeks ago the Knicks were in serious competition for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Now the Knicks sit in 10th place and five games out of eighth, having gone just 3-7 over their past 10. With the Knicks looking more like rebuilders instead of postseason sleepers, it didn’t take long for Frank Isola of the New York Daily News to propose Anthony asking the Knicks for a change of scenery while detailing a comment from a league executive:
Phil Jackson’s plan conflicts with Anthony’s win-now plan. It always did. Kristaps Porzingis, the future of the franchise, is 20. Carmelo is 31 with 12 seasons under his belt and nearly 32,000 minutes on his legs.
“Why not trade him now when you could get something for him,” said one opposing team executive.
It’s true the Knicks are headed well in the wrong direction. It’s also true that Kristaps Porzingis is a few years out from being a surefire superstar who can lead the team. Heck, the Knicks falling out of the playoff race increases the team’s chances in the lottery and landing a high-profile player to further build the foundation, which also points to further rebuilding.
All of that makes sense. And odds are strong Jackson does look to act as a seller if the team continues to fall out of the playoff race. Players out means more losses means assets gained and better lottery slotting. Jackson has plenty of pieces to let go, too, salary to dump and young guys to get in the rotation if he really does want to toss up the white flag on the season.
But trading Anthony seems unlikely. The man has never given one inclination he wants to move. Obviously the Knicks would get a huge return if they did ship him away, but as Ian Begley of ESPN.com argued when the Knicks were still within earshot of the playoffs, Anthony gives them a huge return on the court, too:
New York is 0-6 in games Anthony missed due to injury and a respectable 23-20 in games he has played.
Without Anthony, the Knicks have been outscored by 7.8 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com. With Anthony on the floor, New York has outscored its opponents by 1.7 points per 100 possessions.
Said difference Anthony can make won’t change for a few more years, at least, especially as he begins to distribute the ball more. Having him around as a veteran superstar mentor for young guys wouldn’t hurt, either.
It’s fun to imagine the scenarios. It’s just that time of year. Yes, Anthony would probably like to win championships like some of his high-profile peers. But doing so in New York under the tutelage of Jackson has to have some appeal. Speaking of appeal, what’s to say a big-name free agent next summer doesn’t like the idea of the Big Apple with Jackson, Anthony and Porzingis?
Maybe Jackson and head coach Derek Fisher have discussed the idea. Maybe not. But this won’t be the last time Anthony’s name comes up. The only remedy the Knicks can trot out is starting to win games again and getting back into the playoff discussion.
Whether they want to is a different discussion entirely.