The New York Knicks have been a colossal disappointment this season. Derrick Rose is a liability on defense, Joakim Noah is playing unproductively in only 22 minutes a game after coaxing the Knicks out of a $72 million contract last summer and Kristaps Porzingis has not scored 20 points in over a month. Madison Square Garden is burning to the ground while Phil Jackson, president of basketball operations, keeps quiet in his office.
When the Knicks traded for Carmelo Anthony almost six years ago, they were hoping he could restore their historic franchise to greatness and bring them their first championship since 1973. Melo has not been able to deliver, but he has remained loyal to the fans, the city and the organization.
Lately, fans at the World’s Most Famous Arena have booed Anthony whenever he takes the floor in an attempt to run him out of town. Some look at the situation objectively and wonder if potential free agents are being turned off by the fans’ treatment of Melo knowing the same could happen to them. The fans, and apparently Jackson, are ready to push the reset button again and build around Porzingis.
Over the past few weeks, Jackson reportedly talked to other teams that he believes Anthony would be willing to join. A deal involving Melo cannot be processed without his approval under the “no trade clause” of his contract. Jackson has shopped Melo to the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers.
Melo has consistently voiced his desire to stay in New York and win here, but admitted that he would consider waiving his no trade clause if the organization wanted to move in a different direction and rebuild.
If Jackson does not like the returns on any deals for Melo, he can opt to keep him on the roster and try to quickly rebuild through free agency like he attempted last summer. Two of Anthony’s closest friends, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade, have early termination options that could make them both free agents this summer. Knicks fans know better than anyone, however, relying on free agency does not always pay off.
The team has lost frustrating game after frustrating game and although it is not far from a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, it has not shown any indications that it can make a run. New York recently lost 21 out of 29 games—a meltdown nobody predicted when the team was sitting at the third seed in the East at 14-10. This losing stretch has taken a toll on everyone from Porzingis, to Melo, to coach Jeff Hornacek, all of whom have criticized the team publicly.
With the trade deadline rapidly approaching on Feb. 23, Anthony will have a little more time to ponder potentially waiving his no trade clause as he will not be featured in the All-Star Game for the first time since 2009.
An under-appreciated player his whole career, he could receive the chance to play for a contender and win his first championship, something that has eluded him up to this point.
If Jackson does find a deal he likes for Melo and the former Syracuse Orangeman does not want to stick through yet another rebuild, fans should acknowledge Anthony and all he has done for this organization. He has not been perfect, but he fought night in and night out for the city, the fans and for his team.
Melo could have easily packed his bags and left in 2014 when he was a free agent, but he said that winning a championship in New York City would mean so much more than winning one elsewhere. Many players fear New York and the Knicks for their bright lights and expectations, but Anthony has embraced these with open arms and has been nothing short of professional with the tough New York media.