New York Knicks: 5 Things Carmelo Anthony Must Do This Offseason

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistJuly 3, 2012

New York Knicks: 5 Things Carmelo Anthony Must Do This Offseason

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    The New York Knicks face an uphill battle to rise up the ranks in the Eastern Conference, and Carmelo Anthony must stay busy in the offseason to lead the climb.

    Not to get Melo-dramatic (see what I did there?), but the 2012-13 season serves as a huge make-or-break year for Anthony and the Knicks. After gutting their roster to build their club around Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, New York still has nothing to show for it.

    The Knicks’ star scorer averaged 22.6 points per game, his lowest mark in seven years, and often looked uninterested until the team replaced Mike D’Antoni as head coach. As the Knicks prepare to at least pass the first-round barrier, they need the Anthony that scored 29.8 points per game in April to show up for the entire year.

    New York's star is already keeping busy this offseason. Anthony has dropped 12 pounds since the playoffs in hopes of entering next season in better shape.

    Anthony should commit to the following tasks during his time off to stay focused for the upcoming season.

Win Gold for Team USA

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    Anthony’s spot on the Olympic squad looked far from secure during his lackadaisical season, but a strong finish and Chris Bosh withdrawing from consideration makes Anthony a likely choice.

    Besides Kevin Love and Blake Griffin, the United States’ basketball roster candidates falls short on big men. During his role on the team that brought home gold in 2008. Anthony proved that he can play the 4 well in international play. He also demonstrated a liking to handling the power forward slot in the NBA last season with Stoudemire off the court.

    The taste of victory wearing red, white and blue should fuel Anthony to claim that same prestige in orange and blue. Anthony can show the world a new-found maturity by playing hard for D’Antoni, an assistant coach for the Olympic club.

    LeBron James can hopefully provide a positive influence for Anthony. James heard all the criticism that will transfer to Anthony now that James is no longer an easy target for the media. James cut all his flashy tendencies and carried himself like a true professional during his championship run, and Anthony could learn from James’ persistence and tenacity.

    If Anthony could also pick up a thing or two about passing and playing defense, that would be swell. While we're on the subject...

Commit to Defense

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    Don’t let him fool you. Anthony is capable of playing solid defense.

    While Anthony will never shut down an opponent like James, he can hold his own when he dedicates to the defensive side of the court. If Mike Woodson can cultivate Anthony to play hard-nosed defense on a nightly basis, we might finally see Anthony ascend to the superstar level.

    With the basketball in his hands, Anthony already ranks among the NBA’s elite, but he will never leap to true greatness solely through offense.

    Before the playoffs began, Anthony attributed his team’s resurgence to their squad’s renewed energy and teamwork, according to Stephen Brotherston of Hoopsworld.

    "I think (it‘s been) just effort, focus, just coming out with a different mentally trying to give the team something different other than scoring."

    Anthony must maintain that spark without the ball to lead the Knicks to a championship run. After all, when is the last time you heard someone state that "offense wins championships"?

Work with Stoudemire

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    Don’t tell me that this town isn't big enough for the two of them. New York is huge.

    Like two toddlers fighting over the same toy, Anthony and Stoudemire just do not play well together. Unless James Dolan can convince the NBA to let the Knicks use two basketballs, the two stars need to find a way to share.

    Stoudemire flourished as the Big Apple’s star before they acquired Anthony from the Denver Nuggets. The power forward scored at least 30 points nine straight times and warranted serious MVP consideration before Anthony’s arrival.

    Once Anthony entered the picture, Stoudemire often got lost in the shuffle, watching helplessly as he team played keep away from S.T.A.T in pivotal moments.

    When Stoudemire missed action as last season came to a conclusion, Anthony rediscovered his mojo, topping 30 points on seven occasions during April.

    Both players need the ball to thrive, and they both operate effectively at power forward. They still must find a way to mesh together on the court for the Knicks to reach their full potential.

    Anthony and Stoudemire should put their egos aside and spend the offseason working side-by-side to establish some semblance of chemistry on the court.

Recruit a Veteran Free Agent

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    Retaining Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields should be the Knicks’ top priorities this offseason, but they can use an experienced bench player.

    The NBA reached a verdict that allows New York to employ Bird rights on Lin and Steve Novak, so they can sign somebody with their mid-level exception.

    All the talk revolves around obtaining Steve Nash, but other teams with more financial leeway are aggressively pursuing him. Besides, do the Knicks really need another offensive playmaker prone to frequent defensive lapses anyway?

    The Knicks should set their sights on a veteran point guard who can fill the role they envisioned Mike Bibby and Baron Davis satisfying.

    They would be wise to target Jason Kidd, who played with Anthony during the 2008 Olympics. While ESPN reported that Kidd will follow Deron Williams to Brooklyn or Dallas, perhaps Anthony can use his prior connection with Kidd to convince him that the Knicks provide him a better shot of capturing another title.

    If not, maybe Anthony can sway former teammate Chauncey Billups into returning to the Knicks.

    And if they don’t re-sign J.R. Smith, Anthony should call Ray Allen and describe the thrill of playing in New York.

Ignore the Media

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    Before the Miami Heat sealed the deal on their championship run, members of the media began wondering which ringless star they would criticize after James won a title.

    The overwhelming response was Carmelo Anthony.

    It makes sense, considering he orchestrated a move to New York and has yet to earn a trip to the NBA Finals. There are better players who have yet to reach the promised land, but Anthony is doomed to be the media’s new favorite player to bash.

    Anthony needs to tune out everyone else and avoid building any added pressure. While James proved his doubters wrong, Anthony is more likely to fail at playing the hero. For Anthony, trying to save the day means he will take several unwarranted, highly-contested shots.

    Although Anthony could channel and criticism to fuel his quest for a title, he could just as easily crash and burn in an effort to match the unreasonable expectations asserted onto the star scorer. As of now, Anthony is simply not good enough to carry a team to glory.

    For the Knicks to have any shot at topping Miami and the rest of the NBA’s elite teams, all of their players, not just Anthony, must step up.