Beyond the Key Episode of the week
By Thomas Pensiero
Five and a half years after Carmelo Anthony forced his way to Madison Square Garden, the New York Knicks have only had two winning seasons. It has been a struggle to say the least. We have all seen what has gone wrong in the last few years with this historic franchise. It’s easy to point fingers in many different directions, the blame can be put on a multitude on men, all who have been haunting Knicks’ fans for years. Ultimately the past is the past and the future is what really matters. So what does the future look like for the Big Apple?
Going into the summer of 2015 The Knicks’ president, Phil Jackson, went to work to try and recruit free agents. Although the Knicks came away with veterans Aaron Afflalo and Robin Lopez, in the eyes of the fans, Phil Jackson struck out again. Phil Jackson has not proven to be beneficial to the Knicks. The 70 year old President has not been able to attract talent with his eleven NBA Championship rings. If Jackson cannot bring in the top tier coach and player, then what is his purpose? Good news for New York, Phil gets another shot to redeem himself this offseason during free agency.
Assuming Aaron Afflalo and Derrick Williams opt out of their contracts, the Knicks could have around $35 million in cap space this summer. New York has a man with 11 rings running the team, a 10 time all-star in Carmelo, a rising star in Kristaps Porzingis, and $35 million in cap space. On paper, this is ideal. In reality, it is all up in the air, especially if Phil does not budge on his love for the “triangle”. With all of the problems in management, Carmelo has had enough and the super-star has decided to take things into his own hands.
Carmelo Anthony is not leaving the recruiting up to Phil Jackson this year. "Put me at the head of the table and let's go to work," he said after the Knicks practice in Denver on Monday, per ESPN.com. There is emotion behind his quotes. Anthony desperately wants to play in New York, his hometown.
He re-signed with the Knicks knowing he had better options out there, but Carmelo wanted to win in New York. I think it has gotten to the point where Anthony realizes that if he wants to win in the City, then he needs to bring talent there himself. So who should Carmelo turn his attention to? Melo is on record saying he would love to bring Rajon Rondo to the team. Rondo disagrees. Rondo has said, the triangle is not a good fit for him. Let’s face it the triangle offense has never had a ball dominant point guard, and I don’t see that changing. If Carmelo really wants Rondo on the Knicks, then he needs some help from his boss. If Phil does end up backing off the “triangle” then Rajon would actually be a great fit. He has revitalized his career in Sacramento, and would be the best point guard New York has seen in years. Another factor in the Rondo recruitment is Tom Thibodeau was one of Rondo’s coaches in Boston. If the Knicks could land Thibodaeu, could they then get Rajon Rondo?
Another player Carmelo Anthony is recruiting is big man Dwight Howard. For this to happen the Knicks would likely need to trade Robin Lopez, mainly because the Knicks front court is already crowded. Dwight still has the potential to be a top 20 talent in the league, and maybe a change of cinerary would help that. Not to mention, the triangle thrives with a talented big man.
Although Dwight and Rondo would be upgrades for the Knicks, I believe Carmelo should focus his recruitment elsewhere. Kevin Durant should be option number one, Anthony should be sending as much time as possible in Oklahoma City this summer. Pau Gasol is another name to watch. Pau has already won with Phil in L.A., and would be affordable. Lastly, Melo should call up Mike Conley. Mike has been one of the most underrated guards in the league the last five years, and honestly, anything is an upgrade at point guard over José Calderon.
Ultimately whomever Carmelo decides to recruit, it seems that he’ll need to be a bigger factor the Phil Jackson in the process. If Anthony cannot convince a fellow superstar to sign in New York this summer, the Knicks will have to hope Porzingis reaches his prime before Anthony exits his.