Carmelo Anthony’s big splash in New York did not seem all that bad last season for either party involved. The New York Knicks were getting one of the purest scorers in the league and the Denver Nuggets seemed to relish the release of the media drama.
I’m no Nuggets fan but watching them have to answer the exact same questions in and out, especially after a loss, made the NBA a little less entertaining and a little more like a full-body waxing followed by amateur acupuncture.
Yes. It had become that bad.
But, after all was said and done, with Anthony teamed up with Amar'e Stoudemire in the Big Apple, coach Mark D’Antoni could not screw this one up. Even after a series sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics, without Chauncey Billups and Stoudemire temporarily, the Knicks still looked like a team that would contend for much longer than the first round this postseason.
A little defensive switch-up here and there, a little more dedication on both sides of the court and an entire offseason to mesh as a group, the Knicks were rivaling the Miami Heat in preseason hype.
Then there was the lockout. A time span in the offseason that forced players in their own collective corners without the use of their facilities and interaction with their franchises while debating which side was owed what they were asking for. Soon after the lockout was lifted and basketball business was allowed, in as normal a fashion as fans could expect, Chauncey Billups was put up on the chopping block for another team to grab a hold of.
Watching the Knicks struggle with that power play and watching Billups flourish in Lob City must be hard for Knicks’ leadership to stomach. At least with Billups, the Knicks understood they had a veteran leader on the team who would never shy away from putting his stamp on the game.
Whether that meant shooting a buzzer-beating, mid-range jumper or drawing a foul on the perimeter from one of the better defenders in the league (LeBron James), Billups is more than capable of handling his assignments on the court and doing it very well.
But, the trade that brought Anthony and Billups to NY in the first place is coming back to bite everyone in their orange and blue butts. For miles of sports media chatter, ever since the trade was proposed, there have been loads of criticism regarding how much the Knicks gave up to add another dimension to an area of New York’s game that did not need to be fixed.
Before Carmelo Anthony’s arrival to the Knicks in the 2010-11 season, the Knicks were averaging 106.2 points per game. Seems like a quite sound offense for a team that ended on a very quick note in the first round of the playoffs. Their offense has rarely been the problem.
It is the Knicks’ defense that has consistently perplexed the win column of their schedule and it continues to do so as the front office entertains D’Antoni’s emphasis on running an offense-heavy playbook. Of course, bringing in the rookie Iman Shumpert will allow Knicks’ fans to lick their wounds and the recruitment of Baron Davis can put a Hello Kitty Band-Aid over the third-degree burns of their issues, but neither is the answer.
One is way too young to make a willful impact and the other is too old and burnt out with questions of work ethic and dedication to make the impact the Knicks hope he might. Davis was shaken from the Clippers in a trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and after only a season—not even a full one—he was kicked out of Cleveland quarters as well.
So, not only are the Knicks still trying to focus on creating a defensive mentality within their squad, but they are struggling with point guard play that has become more important than it has ever been. Carmelo can attempt to take the responsibility of operating the offense under his wing, but the reality is that this is not in his game.
He understands this himself as he feels that some of the Knicks’ troubles should be his responsibility, according to SLAM! Online.
“We as a team need to do a better job getting Amar’e the ball,” Anthony said Saturday. “I have the ball in my hands. Maybe it’s on me. Maybe I need to get him the ball a little bit more, help him out with that. Me and [Stoudemire] will talk, try to figure it out together. If I’m doing too much, I want him to tell me. I want the guys on my team to tell me if I’m doing too much. We handle it like that.” Anthony said there already have been “team meetings, players meetings.” But this one-to-one seems long overdue.
Carmelo could not be more right, but the fault is not his.
When the Knicks brought him in, they brought in a quality scorer, not an equally functional facilitator. That is not Anthony’s game by any means and forcing him into a situation where he has to adapt and shift his responsibilities like that was not something that was smart on either person’s behalf. The franchise is still lacking—extremely—and Carmelo is left in a situation where not even his 25-plus-point average each season will lead his organization to an NBA Finals.
Unfortunately, the New York Knicks would be better without him.
So what do they need? A point guard that is just as effective offensively as they are defensively. A veteran point guard that can risk not being the team’s go-to guy for the sake of hitting the open man for the defining score of the game. The team needs a guard that is as athletic as the best PGs in the league, but ready to relinquish his duties as his squad’s leading man to make the next player better.
Deron Williams, perhaps?
In any event, without proper self-evaluation the Knicks will continue to smile in the face of danger by bringing in big names that have nothing to offer but what they already have enough of. The trade for Carmelo Anthony seemed great at first, but now, not so much.
Scoring is great, but this does not change the motto that "Defense wins championships." Maybe even a point guard to match.
Right now, the New York Knicks have neither and are failing miserably at restoring their reputation.
Follow Joye Pruitt on Twitter @joyethewar.