The Knicks, who have lost 11 of their last 16 games, seem to have lost the competitive spirit that they had been thriving on all season long. Point guard Raymond Felton is sick of the rumors and speculation and knows that all of the talk is distracting himself and his teammates.
Ever since New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov pulled his team out of the ‘Melo sweepstakes, the Knicks have become the frontrunners for Carmelo Anthony, which puts them in the NBA’s spotlight with the trade deadline coming up soon.
The Los Angeles Lakers have also been rumored to be in contact with the Nuggets about Anthony, but Andrew Bynum, the main piece of what would have been the Lakers’ offer, confirmed that the Lakers are not seriously pursuing the Nuggets’ star player.
A number of Knicks’ players have been linked to trade talks. Wilson Chandler seems to be the primary piece in every proposed deal, with players like Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph also being crucial parts to any trade. Danilo Gallinari is also a hot prospect for any deal, but the Knicks would rather not let him go. Felton’s name has also been thrown out there, but it is unlikely that he will be going anywhere. In reality, any player on the Knicks roster, aside from Amar’e Stoudemire, is available, but rising stars like Felton, Gallinari, and rookie Landry Fields are some of the players the Knicks would prefer to keep if possible.
Coach Mike D’Antoni stated this week that he felt the fans were also becoming a distraction to his players. Chants such as “We Want Melo” have been rampant through the Garden. D’Antoni believes that this is really hurting the players’ concentration and motivation.
Team President Donnie Walsh has also come out and agreed with D’Antoni that these chants are hurting the team. Walsh pondered the idea of announcing that the Knicks are pulling out of the Carmelo hunt, just like the Nets’ owner did. The Nets have improved since their name has been taken out of the ‘Melo sweepstakes, while the Knicks have faltered since that day.
Walsh believed that pretending to take the Knicks out of the race could take the pressure off the players, but he never pulled the trigger on the plan and no one would believe it anyway.
With all of the rumors flying around and most of the team unsure if they will be playing in New York by next week, it is understandable that the Knicks would be a little distracted. This really is no excuse for the complete meltdown they have had lately though.
Mike D’Antoni’s coaching style lacks a solid defense, ranking 29th in the league in points against, which has hurt the Knicks during their recent slump. A lack of consistent foul and three-point shooting has prevented the Knicks, who are still second in the NBA in scoring, from being able to outscore their opponents in shootouts, which seems to be the only way they win under D’Antoni.
By February 24th, the NBA’s trade deadline, the Knicks better have a Carmelo Anthony jersey ready for their next game. Whether or not the Knicks and Nuggets pull the trigger on the deal that the entire NBA has been waiting a month for, the distractions will be over and the Knicks will have no excuse for their poor play.
Anthony will add the second superstar that appears to be necessary for success in the NBA. ‘Melo is also a defensive stud and could add some defense that the Knicks seriously lack. If the Knicks’ struggles continue past this weekend’s all-star break, they run the risk of ruining the best season the Garden has seen in a decade. Carmelo Anthony is the key to success for the Knickerbockers and a one-two punch of ‘Melo and Amar’e could lead the Knicks to some postseason victories.