Beyond the Key Episode of the week
By Tim Cockes
Carmelo Anthony: Rough Patch? Summer Trade Coming?
Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks are struggling right now. They started the season at 20-20 and are currently 26-38. This is frustrating because the Knicks had high hopes to compete for championships with Anthony when he signed his 5-year, $125 million contract. The Knicks are now left with a non-competitive team and questions about whether or not Carmelo can lead a team where the Knicks want to go. Anthony has a no-trade clause in his contract which means that he has to sign off on any trade that the Knicks would make involving him. The question is, is this just a rough patch for Carmelo, or is it time for the Knicks to consider making a move?
Anthony’s ability as a leader has sometimes been questionable throughout his career. The New York Knicks seem to have a problem with trying to build a team around a player that you can’t build a team around. Recent examples have been Stephon Marbury and Amar’e Stoudemire. There are actually only a handful of players who you can build a team around, and it’s a bad strategy to try and guess these players via the draft (see 76ers). Phil Jackson and the Knicks should primarily focus on building a great team and not building a team to match one good player. Many people question the leadership abilities of Carmelo. I think some of this criticism is warranted and some is not. It’s reasonable to assert that Anthony is not capable of being the best player on a championship team. Based on what we have seen in his career, I agree with that assertion. However, I think it is unfair to assert that he is not a team player or is a bad teammate. Anthony once suggested for Jeremy Lin to get a chance to play in a game for the Knicks eventually leading to Linsanity. It’s also unfair to assume that just because Anthony is not an above-average defender that he doesn’t try on defense. He is no James Harden. He is a good teammate that wants his team to be successful. It’s not his fault that he is not capable of being a leader on a championship team. Only around twenty players ever are capable of that. We should embrace Anthony for what he can be, a good player on a possible contenting team.
Despite the way that I have just somewhat defended Anthony, I still think that the Knicks need to try to trade him this summer. This actually has nothing to do with the fact that Carmelo and the Knicks are having a rough patch. The rough patch is merely a boiling point. Other than the Knicks’ recent play, a boiling point came in a recent game against Portland. The Knicks were losing the game, and Anthony was being heckled by a fan. Carmelo reportedly then pointed the fan to Knicks’ owner James Dolan and said to ask him for his money back. Not only is this unprofessional and rude, it might be the last straw for the Carmelo era in New York. A player should never say anything to a fan, they just have to ignore the stupid things they say. There is a reason you are on the court and they are in the stands. Not to mention that they are probably drunk. I’m not asserting that this particular fan was drunk, we don’t know that. I’m only saying many fans get drunk at sporting events. Lashing out at a fan is a bad sign, and saying something bad about your team’s owner when he is right there is even worse. This is only the last straw in what looks like a broken marriage that had no chance to begin with. The Knicks were expecting something from Anthony that he isn’t capable of delivering, and the Knicks have also not been able to assemble a team that Anthony could win with. A bad situation all around. This will most likely be the tipping point for the Knicks in their relationship with Carmelo. The Knicks will most likely look to trade Anthony during the summer, the only problem is finding another team that would take Carmelo’s contract and could offer equal worth for him. There are teams that would be willing (who says no to a straight up Carmelo Anthony for Blake Griffin trade?), but can all the stars align to make the deal happen? We are only left to wonder what will happen this summer, and what jersey Anthony will be wearing next year.