Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony notched a double-double in New York's closer-than-expected win over the Milwaukee Bucks last night at MSG. It was only Melo's third season-opener as a member of the Knicks, and as fans of the team have been reminded constantly over the past two weeks, it could be his last.
In the short run, Melo was simply being honest. Athletes want to reach free agency. They want more more money. They want to be coveted. It's human nature.
Unfortunately, when you're the marquee player of one of the NBA's marquee franchises, a little honesty can go a long way.
Knicks general manager Steve Mills has already tried a bit of damage control. According to Newsday's Al Iannazzone, Mills announced that both the Knicks and Melo had agreed not to discuss his impending free agency the rest of the season.
That's all well and good, but there are only two certain, immutable truths to this whole situation. First, Melo is going to test free agency after this season. And second, the media will try to goad Melo into discussing his potential free agency for the rest of this season.
The first shot came from TNT analyst Sir Charles Barkley, when he went on air Monday and accused Melo of not enticing potential free agents to the Knicks. Chuck did what Chuck has always done, both on the court and in the booth: instigate trouble.
And Melo did what he absolutely cannot do this season: He responded.
They don't know what I'm doing...I haven't had a complaint yet in my 11 years in this NBA about playing with me. I think people would love to come to play in New York. And when that time comes, we'll be working on that.
I have a big black book. I have a big Rolodex. People that talk about what's going on with me in the offseason, this and that, I should be getting people to come here, I am. I'm trying.
Naturally, "Rolodex-gate" made for great copy in the New York press.
Melo has to understand that comments like these play into the hands of the media. If he wants to play a calm, distraction-free season with the Knicks, then he has to learn when to say "no comment."
Now that real, actual New York Knicks basketball is being played, Melo has a chance to nip this controversy in the bud for the time being. Reporters will still ask questions, pundits will still try to start rumors, but without a response from Melo, the damage will be light.
But if Melo continues to respond, and the media starts questioning teammates about controversial Melo quotes on an everyday basis, then the Knicks star could turn into a distraction sooner rather than later.