During the 2010-11 season, the New York Knicks sacrificed a young core consisting of Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Timofey Mozgov in order to land Carmelo Anthony. Is it possible they now sacrifice him for a young core?
According to Hall of Fame point guard Walt "Clyde" Frazier, a trade involving the superstar may be inevitable.
When asked about what the Knicks did this offseason, Frazier had this to say, according to Ian Begley of ESPN:
"I'm sure Melo wasn't happy. His future is now. You know, he’s not getting younger. This is going to be a pivotal season for him to see really how he fits into the Knick plans and how this is going to go from here. Will he ask out, you know what I mean, if he sees that this is not happening? Because right now the Knicks, [it's] going to be tough to make the playoffs. They are a few years away and Melo knows that his days are numbered, so stay tuned."
The Knicks should have thought of this before they inked the scorer to a five-year, $124 million contract prior to the 2014-15 season. In fairness, nobody expected the Knicks to plummet to a meager 17-65 last season, which resulted in them grabbing the No. 4 pick in the draft, Kristaps Porzingis.
The Knicks had a great draft, picking up Porzingis and Notre Dame point guard Jerian Grant, but then swung and missed in free agency.
After pursuing stars, the Knicks wound up with probable starters Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo, as well as fliers Derrick Williams and Kyle O'Quinn. It was a haul of decent role players, but the Knicks didn't make the splash they had hoped for.
With a roster that appears likely to miss the postseason yet again and no first-round draft pick in 2016, should the Knicks deal Carmelo Anthony in order to start a clean rebuild?
Although the obvious answer might be yes, the rational answer is no.
As we've seen in the NBA, however, the player truly has the power. So if Anthony asks for a trade, it is likely the Knicks would comply. It's certainly possible he does ask to be dealt, since his window to win a championship is closing, and he might not achieve it with the Knicks.
The issue is that the Knicks might not get a proper package in return if he does that, and the Knicks will have no leverage in negotiations with other teams.
Plenty of teams around the league would be interested in Anthony's scoring prowess, but his contract will likely be hard to move. If a team is eating so much salary, it might be hesitant to part with young prospects or draft picks, making the trade more of a cap dump than anything else.
In that case, there's really no point in trading Anthony, since it won't make the Knicks better in the short term and won't help them build long term, either.
Anthony is the most underrated and most heavily criticized superstar in New York sports. His scoring ability is oftentimes overlooked by his lack of postseason success, and his unfair criticism as being a ball hog.
Anthony isn't the reason the Knicks are awful. The Knicks are awful because they have nobody besides Anthony.
The sad reality is that Anthony can't do it alone, no matter how many All-Star Games he makes, and how many times he leads the league in scoring. The Knicks are a poor defensive team and have consistently failed to provide their star with the weapons needed to be successful.
That can still change, however.
Anthony is the Knicks' only ticket to being competitive.
We aren't talking about the Minnesota Timberwolves right now, we are talking about the New York Knicks. In one of the biggest basketball markets in the world with quite possibly the hungriest fans, rebuilding isn't an option. The Knicks aren't paying team president Phil Jackson $60 million to sign Robin Lopez and trade their only star away.
Even after an injury-shortened 2014-15 season, Anthony still remains the Knicks' best option to carry the franchise moving forward.
Few players in the league possess Anthony's scoring ability, and I would make the argument that he's actually the best scorer in the league. Paul Pierce has been on the record saying that Anthony is the hardest player in the NBA to guard.
"He’s a unique blend of being big, strong, and athletic while also having a world-class shooting touch and a natural ability to get to the rim. That’s what sets him apart—every facet of his game is elite," Pierce wrote on the Players' Tribune.
Here is a look at Anthony's stats with the Knicks, where he has consistently been among the league's leading scorers.
|Carmelo Anthony's Knicks Stats by Season|
He can shoot from both mid-range and outside, beat defenders off the dribble, create separation from anyone and bang inside.
The fact that the Knicks have only been out of the first round of the playoffs once since 2000 isn't Anthony's fault. If the Knicks want to return to the postseason and make some noise, Anthony will have to recruit free agents to join him in New York and build a contender.
It would be great to have a first-round pick this year, especially since it appears as if the Knicks will be headed back to the lottery. But it isn't worth tossing away a proven superstar in order to take a chance on some unproven 19-year-old.
The best bet for the Knicks is to develop Porzingis and Grant this season while letting Anthony and Afflalo carry the scoring load. They should be an improved defensive and three-point shooting team, and they ran a renewed, quicker version of the triangle offense in the NBA Summer League. Porzingis showed great flashes in the summer league and might be able to contribute this season, although the perception is that he's a few years away.
If the Knicks can somehow get to 35 wins in the Eastern Conference and be competitive throughout the season, perhaps Anthony can recruit some marquee free agents such as Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard or Joakim Noah to New York. In this way, the Knicks are likely to be playoff bound in 2016-17 rather than placing their wagers on rookies who are three or four seasons from being reliable contributors.