Bring on the NBA playoffs!
Did you know that? Did you know that Anthony's Knicks didn't make the postseason? And did you also know this is the first time in his 11-year career that his team hasn't made the playoffs?
Because Anthony knows. And he's not happy.
While speaking with reporters at his exit interview—which took place much sooner than anyone could have ever imagined (did you know the Knicks didn't make the playoffs even though they were supposed to make the playoffs?)—Anthony sounded unsure at best about what the future holds for him.
He kicked things off with the obvious, per the New York Daily News' Frank Isola:
Carmelo: "I want to come back...I also want to win."— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) April 17, 2014
Then he delved even deeper into the obvious:
Carmelo: "I don't know if I can afford another season of losing."— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) April 17, 2014
There's serious merit to Anthony's last point. He turns 30 in May. The clock is ticking on his career, on his ability to dress his naked fingers in some championship swag.
Immediately contending for said championship rings may not be an option for him in New York, where the Knicks have neither cap space nor draft picks to help strengthen and deepen their roster. If they're going to add serious, superstar-level talent, it's unlikely to happen before summer 2015.
Per ESPN New York's Ian Begley, Anthony doesn't appear keen on waiting that long:
Carmelo: "I'm not at the point in my career where I want to rebuild." #Knicks— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 17, 2014
Not many superstars approaching 30 would. Not after a season like this. Did you know the Knicks didn't make the playoffs? Anthony can't move past it. He's ashamed of it, via Newsday's Al Iannazzone:
Melo said not being in the playoffs is "embarrassing" to him.— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) April 17, 2014
More embarrassing than going out in public wearing parachute pants tucked into combat boots? Probably.
Everyone wants to know if he's embarrassed enough to leave, especially considering he maintains that money isn't important to him:
Carmelo: "At this point in my career I'm not concerned about the money." Knicks can offer more than any other team: five years, $129 million— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) April 17, 2014
That's cute. Really, it is.
Forgive me and anyone else who doesn't buy into Anthony's win-at-all-financial-costs mantra just yet. Saying that he doesn't care about money is remarkably similar to another situation, as ESPN's Amin Elhassan points out:
This is NBA equivalent of college kids saying in Feb how much they love school RT @FisolaNYDN: Melo: "At this pt,I'm not concerned about $"— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) April 17, 2014
On that note, did you guys also know that in a piece by Sports Illustrated's Jeff Benedict, the allegedly on-the-fence NBA prospect Jabari Parker declared for the draft instead of spurning millions of dollars in earning potential to play at Duke next year? Did you?
Money matters. The Knicks can offer Anthony one year and more than $30 million of additional job security than any other team. That's going to matter. Believe it doesn't matter when it actually doesn't matter—which won't happen, because it matters.
If there was ever a season trying and painful enough to render Anthony's financial aspirations inconsequential, though, it would be this one:
Carmelo says this has been by far the most difficult season in his 11-year career. #Knicks— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 17, 2014
Despite this being the most difficult season of his career, Anthony apparently has head coach Mike Woodson's back:
Carmelo says he'd have no problem backing Mike Woodson if he's asked his opinion on Woodson's future. #Knicks— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 17, 2014
It's far easier to say that, of course, if Anthony plans on leaving. It's also easier to talk the talk without walking the walk when it doesn't seem like Woodson himself will be back next season, per The Wall Street Journal's Chris Herring:
Woodson declined comment yesterday on whether he'd be involved in exit meetings. Now sounds as if he wasn't involved today.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) April 17, 2014
For all Woodson's shortcomings, he really hasn't been given a totally fair shake this season. Not everything is his fault. He's essentially the fall guy who's with the wrong team making questionable decisions at the wrong time.
But we digress. There are more important things to discuss.
Like Anthony's choice of headwear:
Carmelo, half-jokingly asked why he was wearing a red hat: "Red is my favorite color."— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) April 17, 2014
OK, enough wardrobe talk.
Did you know the Knicks didn't make the playoffs? Anthony kept circling back to this. The thought has given him insomnia:
Carmelo Anthony sounded absolutely tormented about not being in the playoffs. Said he's been losing sleep.— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) April 17, 2014
Missing the playoffs hits him so hard, there may have been traces of tears in his interview:
Carmelo was getting choked up as he talked about not making the playoffs and about what Mike Woodson means to him. Very emotional.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) April 17, 2014
Luckily, it wasn't all tears and lamenting what-ifs. Anthony is apparently encouraged by Amar'e Stoudemire's recent play, per Knicks.com's Jonah Ballow:
The seven-time All-Star also believes he personally won't be slowing down anytime soon:
All good things. Whether they'll be the last good things he says as a member of the Knicks, we don't know. Anthony has a lot of thinking to do.
For what it's worth, it's going to be difficult for him to leave New York. He forced his way to the Knicks. They still have market appeal. They have truckloads of money to give him.
New York is still where his loyalty lies.
This could be Carmelo's last press conference as a Knick. (I'm making it dramatic since we all know he'll be back). pic.twitter.com/Cn6x9YKysi— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) April 17, 2014
Which team will Carmelo Anthony sign with this summer?
"If we can put ourselves in position to at least compete at a high level...then I’m willing to stay," he said, via Begley.
This is why free agency doesn't start right away, folks. There will be time for Anthony to heal, to clear his head before July. So let's not blow his exit interview out of proportion.
There's a real chance he could leave, but New York still has the inside track. He's still a member of the Knicks.
Disappointing season and murky future in mind, that's still not likely to change anytime soon.
*Salary-cap information via ShamSports.