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Carmelo Anthony Wants to Play Less as NY Knicks Need More

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks looks on during the second half against the Houston Rockets at Madison Square Garden on November 14, 2013 in New York City. The Rockets defeat the Knicks 109-106. 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. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 21, 2016

With nothing going according to plan in 2013-14, these New York Knicks can be awfully hard to watch at times.

Apparently, playing for them is no picnic either.

At least, not without certain limits in place. Limits that reigning scoring champion Carmelo Anthony hopes can become a little more defined.

"I don't want to play 45 minutes a night," Anthony said the day after logging nearly 44 in a three-point loss to the Houston Rockets, via Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Look, playing time often fluctuates over the course of an 82-game season. When coaches feel tied down by injury-ravaged rotations, then the remaining healthy bodies are sometimes run ragged in spurts.

But this heavy workload is becoming more like a standard than a variance for Anthony. He leads the league in average floor time (40.8 per game) and has seen fewer than 40 minutes just three times in the team's first eight games.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 5: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks looks on against the Charlotte Bobcats during the game on November 5, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
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Company man that he is, Anthony said he's willing to do whatever it takes. "At this rate if that’s what I have to do to try to help this team, then I’m all for it," he said, via Berman.

With Tyson Chandler (leg) on the shelf, it's not like coach Mike Woodson has many other good options available. Anthony's healthy frontcourt mates haven't exactly inspired a lot of confidence.

Amar'e Stoudemire—or whatever's left of him at this point—has been nothing short of a disaster. His net rating of minus-26.5 points per 100 possessions is second-worst on the team. Andrea Bargnani (minus-9.7) and Metta World Peace (minus-6.3) haven't fared much better.

Stoudemire and Bargnani are sieves defensively, and Father Time is limiting World Peace's play at that end of the floor.

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 25: Kemba Walker #15 of the Charlotte Bobcats drives against Andrea Bargnani #77 of the New York Knicks during a preseason game on October 25, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledge
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Then again, how long can the Knicks keep feeding Anthony these oversized servings without tempting fate?

This team looked gassed in its six-game series loss to the Indiana Pacers last postseason. Pushing Anthony past his physical limits now hardly seems to be in the team's best interest going forward.

So how can this team buy Anthony some bench time?

Woodson does have depth on the wings. Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. can man the perimeter in Anthony's absence.

Plugging the interior will be the harder job, but Woodson has found moderate success with a few different frontcourt combos.

Bargnani and Kenyon Martin have worked magic in limited doses together (plus-45.8 net rating, 15 minutes played). Martin's also excelled alongside World Peace (plus-21.0, 53 minutes).

Martin's itching for extra playing time, as Woodson's preservation plan has limited the 35-year-old to just 11.4 minutes a night and already one healthy scratch.

"I’d be disappointed if he wore a Knick uniform and just wanted to sit over there and be comfortable with where he is in his career," Woodson said of Martin, via Peter Botte of the New York Daily News. "I know he wants to play."

And I know Woodson wants to be cautious with Martin. I understand his concern.

But sparing Martin's body at the expense of Anthony's seems, at the least, counterproductive. Martin can play a pivotal role in New York's postseason, but a playoff ticket will never come if Anthony's body breaks down.

 

*Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.

 

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