Drama has been a frequent bedfellow of the New York Knicks this season, and it's not going anywhere anytime soon.
About 90 minutes before tipoff Monday night at Madison Square Garden, Leon Rose met Knicks general manager Steve Mills on the court. The two men walked under the stands and disappeared.
Thirty minutes later, Rose emerged and shook hands with Knicks executive Allan Houston. They strolled together through the tunnel leading toward the Knicks' locker room.
These meetings involving the highest levels of the Knicks' brass and Carmelo Anthony's agent came after two straight excruciating losses.
Details of the conversation remain unknown, but its mere existence has an ominous undertone.
Anthony can and will hit unrestricted free agency this summer, at which point he could leave the stumbling and bumbling Knicks behind. And if post All-Star dealings are any indication of what's to come in New York, leaving is something he'll definitely consider.
In addition to their home loss to Dallas Monday—their third in a row—starting point guard Raymond Felton was arrested and charged with an array of firearm-related felonies and misdemeanors, according to ESPN New York's Ian Begley.
Felton's off-court issues could not have come at a worse time for the Knicks, who are dealing with enough problems as it is.
The club just recently parted ways with the seldom-used Beno Udrih and Metta World Peace, per ESPN New York, and they now find themselves six games outside the horrific Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Not a single one of Anthony's teams have ever missed the playoffs. His streak of 10 consecutive postseason appearances is one neither LeBron James nor Kobe Bryant can lay claim to. There's no telling how he will react to his season ending early for the first time in his career.
To his credit, Anthony has played the part of resilient warrior, soldiering on through New York's self-foisted labyrinth of mayhem and incompetence. He's topped 40 points in three of his last four games and while in New Orleans for All-Star Weekend, he indicated he would accept less money in free agency to render the Knicks contenders. He said, via the New York Post's Marc Berman:
Without a doubt. Any opportunity I have to build that up in New York, I’d do it. I told people all the time, if it takes me taking a paycut, I’ll be the first one on Mr. Dolan’s steps saying: ‘Take my money and let’s build something strong over here.’
Will Carmelo Anthony re-sign with the Knicks this summer?
While admirable, Anthony's reaffirmed dedication gives him an out.
Berger writes that "no one connected to the Knicks" believes Anthony will leave this summer. Ultimately that may be true, but we've reached the point where few would blame him if he did.
This is the best version of Anthony the Knicks have ever had, and they're wasting it. At a time when they should be touting a fecund future, they're giving him every reason to leave.
Anthony, meanwhile, soldiers on, shooting and scoring, expending every last ounce of energy he can muster while entertaining the idea of taking a pay cut for a Knicks team that has thus far been incapable of making good on its (empty) promises.