New York Knicks Not Fooling Anyone Selling Empty Future Once Again

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks stands for the national anthem against the Minnesota Timberwolves on November 3, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

You wouldn't drizzle hot fudge on a bowl of cottage cheese and call it a vanilla ice cream sundae, nor should you. The New York Knicks would.

They are. And they're hoping to trick Carmelo Anthony into devouring it.

Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Knicks plan to sell Anthony, who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, on 2015, their ability to sign other superstars and the prospect of teaming up with Kevin Love:

Almost assuredly, Love will exercise his early termination option in two years and take a strong look at where the free-agent landscape stands with the T'wolves. He could re-sign a longer, richer deal with Minnesota, or chase big-market platforms in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and perhaps elsewhere.

The Knicks are buried in salary-cap hell through 2014, awaiting Amar'e Stoudemire ($23.4 million), Tyson Chandler ($14.3 million) and Andrea Bargnani ($12 million) to expire. The Knicks are sold on Love in 2015, sources tell Yahoo Sports, and they've already begun devising a strategy to lure him when the time comes.

Love is a superstar, and plenty of teams will be in the market for his services if he declines his player option in 2015. Can't blame any of them, either, the Knicks included.

Difference is, this seemingly typical sales pitch is masking something greater.

Dark clouds continue to hover over the Big Apple. Traces of their existence are found on the sunniest afternoons. Mixed feelings about the state of the Knicks abound, and until they turn things around, those clouds won't part.

Yours truly had the Knicks winning the Atlantic Division and finishing third or fourth in the Eastern Conference this year, despite vast roster improvements made by the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets. Not even a 10th of the way through the season, I stand by my predictions. Most of me still believes the Knicks are a contender.

But that doesn't mean I, nor you, must pretend everything's hunky dory. It's not—far from it. Even if the Knicks right their current ship, one question will remain: What's next?


Lack of Current Conviction

BOSTON, MA - MAY 3:  Iman Shumpert #21 and J.R. Smith #8 of the New York Knicks  react during a time out in the 4th quarter as they defeat the Celtics 88-80 in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs on May 3, 2013 at TD
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Disregard the Knicks' alleged interest in Love. The inevitable reports that will posit they're interested in Marc Gasol and Rajon Rondo must be ignored, too.

Of course the Knicks will make plays for those three, and more. All major free-agency players in 2015 will.

More so, this plan of attack is revealing about their present lack of plans.

If they actually believed in their current roster, 2015 wouldn't be so important. Not to say it wouldn't remain a selling point, because it most definitely would. When the Miami Heat begin talks with LeBron James this summer, they'll outline a future plan to build around him as well. But they won't ask him to wait around. 

It's difficult for the Knicks to improve now, and it shows with their approach to 2015.
It's difficult for the Knicks to improve now, and it shows with their approach to 2015.Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Essentially, that's what the Knicks will be asking of 'Melo without actually saying it. Full steam ahead for 2015, Anthony. What's that? You want to know about this season and 2014-15? Can't help you there.

Look to 2015, when Love and others will be available. Never mind that players like himself must be sold on giving up an extra year and millions of dollars to play in New York. The Knicks will have an opportunity to speak with Love. With Gasol. With Rondo. That automatically makes them favorites.

Some plan. Not irrational, whimsical or overly ambitious at all, because the Knicks can obviously predict the future.

If only that were true. The Knicks are a long shot to land Love. Sure, they'll be in the conversation if and when he opts out, but that doesn't make them favorites.

Really, there is no definitive plan, the absence of which is jarring. And sort of understandable.

Weighed down by Amar'e Stoudemire's contract and, to lesser extents, the deals of Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani, the Knicks are capped out through next season. The road to becoming a free-agency factor this summer leads through each of those contracts, one of which will be immovable (STAT).

So the Knicks will implore 'Melo to wait, and wait he might. A then-30-year-old Anthony would re-sign with a team promising him the world in one year. A team, according to the New York Daily News' Frank Isola, contemplating dealing Iman Shumpert, whom Anthony figures for stardom.

A Knicks team prepared to sell him on two years into the future, because they cannot find a way to sell him on now.


Absence of Future Clarity

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 4:  A close up shot of Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at The Quicken Loans Arena on November 4, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and a
David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

You see what the Knicks are poised to do, don't you? Defer.

It's already been established that their legs are bound, hands tied and line of credit maxed out. We can beseech them to sell Anthony on now all we want, but we're wearing thin on solutions. I'll readily admit that, while I believe they must find a way to sell Anthony on now rather than later, I don't know how they do that.

That's the thing about their current state—it's nearly unsolvable. The need for reform is there, but an immediate course of action is not. Fix it internally is all we can say, and that's not easy for them to do.

Lack of current clarity has the Knicks focused on the future, where more uncertainty awaits. This whole 2015 plan isn't foolproof. Or even close to dependable. Odors of 2010, when the Knicks were supposed to stage a free-agency coup, are spilling out of it. 

LeBron was supposed to join the Knicks, and he was supposed to bring other superstars with him. They reeled in STAT instead, because plans changed. Things went wrong.

Grand schemes didn't pan out back then, and they may not prove successful in 2015.

Remember when LeBron was supposed to be a Knick?
Remember when LeBron was supposed to be a Knick?USA TODAY Sports

Then what?

The Knicks cannot guarantee Love joins Orange and Blue. Or that Rondo, Gasol or someone else will if he doesn't. Between now and 2015, so many things could happen. So many things can go wrong.

Anthony must consider this; he must understand there are no assurances of best-case scenarios becoming reality. Just like this year's roster could belly up, New York's budgeted promises could disintegrate into maimed dreams.

They could, as they have before, dissipate into nothing.


Empty Promises Die Hard

May 1, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Raymond Felton (2) and forward Iman Shumpert (21) and center Tyson Chandler (6) and guard J.R. Smith (8) and forward Carmelo Anthony (7) huddle after a timeout during the fourth quarter of game five of
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Out of necessity, the Knicks are merely using future uncertainty to supplant extant ambiguity. Serving Anthony cottage cheese when he requested ice cream.

For almost three years, the Knicks and Anthony have been doing this dance. They presented him with the opportunity to contend alongside Stoudemire, who now borders on a recluse, used sparingly and sporadically. Chris Paul's infamous wedding toast turned into Chandler, a defensive mainstay turned frequently injured.

In lieu of the exact roster the Knicks promised Anthony, they've given him power; more power than almost any other player in the NBA. Thus far, Anthony has played the part of a good soldier, remaining appreciative of the team's efforts, even if the desired results aren't there.

"They pulled all the strings to get me here," Anthony told TNT of the Knicks. "I wanted to be here. And I want to retire in New York, I mean let's just be quite frank."

Yes, let's. 

Anthony wants to remain with the Knicks and, in all likelihood, he isn't going anywhere. He has nearly 130 million reasons to stay.

But he's not blind; he can see what's going on. Original plans have gone up in smoke and, in a current haze of confusion and chaos, the Knicks will try to spin an equally blurred future as fact.

"I guess we’ve got to win," Anthony told the New York Daily News when informed of owner James Dolan's guarantee that the Knicks would rebound from a loss to the San Antonio Spurs with a victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Guess. That's all anyone in New York can do. The Knicks can guess that what awaits them in 2015 is better than the situation they're in now. And Anthony can guess that they're right. 

None the wiser than any of us, the Knicks can guess what lies ahead isn't empty of meaning. After that, they must hope Anthony buys it. Or that he's partial to second helpings of conjecture pawned off as truth.

Cottage cheese disguised as ice cream. 



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