New York Knicks All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony may miss the playoffs for the first time in his 11-year career in 2013-14, which is a grim outlook that is testing the seven-time All-Star’s resolve.
According to Newsday’s Al Iannazzone, ‘Melo said that his optimism is “definitely being tested” in the midst of a nightmarish campaign.
Following a 107-98 loss against the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 22, the Knicks are sitting 5.5 games behind the No. 8 Hawks with 26 games remaining. They’re in danger of missing postseason action for the first time during the ‘Melo era.
“I can’t imagine what that’s like,” Anthony said of missing the playoffs, per Iannazzone. “I’m not even trying to think about that at this point. We still got a lot of basketball to play.”
Despite New York’s inability to win games with any sort of consistency, Anthony has been stellar once again.
The Knicks superstar is averaging 27.9 points on 45.3 percent field-goal shooting and a 41.9 percent clip behind the three-point arc. Both of those percentages are better than those he posted last season when he won his first ever scoring title.
Quite frankly, Anthony’s supporting cast has failed to pick up the slack.
J.R. Smith is averaging 12.8 points on a woeful 38.6 percent shooting clip. Point guard Raymond Felton hasn’t been much better, shooting 40 percent from the field overall.
The Knicks' second-leading scorer—Andrea Bargnani at 13.3 points per game—has been out since Jan. 24 with a torn elbow ligament.
The biggest storyline that stems from the Knicks' struggles is ‘Melo’s basketball future. He’s expected to opt out of his contract with New York, having said, “I want to be a free agent,” per Rafi Kohan of The New York Observer.
Whether or not he stays with the Knicks past this summer, however, is up for debate.
‘Melo has said of his looming free agency in October, “That not whatsoever means that I’m not coming back to New York or I don’t want to be here in New York. So I don’t want nobody to get that impression,” per ESPN New York’s Ian Begley.
However, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News cited a former teammate of Anthony’s in January who said, “I think he’s leaving. I’ve played with Melo for a long time and he knows he can’t win here. At this stage, all he wants to do is win. That’s why he’ll leave.”
The Knicks are locked up with numerous bad contracts (Amar’e Stoudemire, Bargnani, Smith, Felton, etc.), so it will be interesting to see what Anthony ultimately decides to do. He can earn significantly more money, however, if he re-signs with the Knicks, per Begley.
At the end of the day, money talks. I wouldn’t be surprised if Anthony sticks it out in New York with hopes of a brighter future, even though 2013-14 has been an absolute disaster—especially since he's hinted at taking a pay cut if he likes the Knicks' plans for the future.