This past week served to be an interesting one for one of the NBA’s best players as he visited five teams. Many celebrated his arrival with large banners, star players and promises of a championship future. While Carmelo Anthony initially was thought to be heading out of New York, currently he is mulling over the idea of returning after his last meeting of the week, which included sitting down with president of basketball operations Phil Jackson. The 11-time champion does not want to start his tenure in creating a rebuilding projects, thus Jackson has proactively sought out Anthony. The problem is that while it may appear to be a good strategy for New York, continuing to play in Madison Square Garden will only continue to expose the forward’s weaknesses, more specifically his leadership skills.
There is no question put into play in terms of the ability of Carmelo Anthony. He is one of the best offensive players in the game today, and as such he is a true force to be reckoned with. Additionally, at 30 years of age, he is in the prime of his career. What is more impressive is that despite having played 11 seasons in the league, he is continuing to get better, not only by being able to score anywhere on the court, but the 2013-2014 season saw him obtain his largest rebounding average yet at 8.1 rpg to go along with his 27.4 ppg.
There are many things that Anthony needs to consider. He can opt to go to a win-now team such as Dallas, Houston or possibly Chicago. His other option is that he can go where the stardom and money is at in Los Angeles and New York. Considering the forward opted out of his contract to become a free agent this season juxtaposed to Jackson unloading center Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Dallas Mavericks, it appeared as though New York had given up all chance on obtaining Carmelo Anthony. However, that notion changed Friday when Knicks brass met with the forward in Los Angeles, and as a result, rumors point to that he is happy in terms of the direction that the Knicks are headed in.
Whether it is money or if it is Anthony not being as optimistic about jumping ship remains to be seen, and if he heads to New York, nobody may never know the true answer. That said, there is one glaring problem with Anthony re-upping his deal — he would have to get back in the saddle as the leader of the team. The 11-year veteran may be many things. He may be one of the most unstoppable offensive forces in the league. He is also a force on the glass. However, between his stints in Denver and New York, it appears that his leadership skills leave much to be desired. He has never quite been able to pull off the ability of making his squad better. He also has a tendency to be selfish and take too many shots that do more harm than good.
Anthony has plenty of opportunity in this free agency. One of those opportunities is to align himself with talented squads that already have leaders in place such as Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles, though the latter is a big question mark in terms of furthering talent. Even in Houston he would not be guaranteed the leadership role. Considering his skill set in terms of being an offensive threat, it would be in his best interest to find a squad to do what he does best and score, without having the rigors of leading the team. It also would allow him to focus on less than he has currently has been, and by aligning himself with other players who have a knack for leading their team to victory, particularly in Dallas, he can improve his successful career.
On the other hand, Anthony could end up going where the money is. He could go to a place in Los Angeles or New York that allows his wife, La La, who is an actress and personality, to be in the best location for her career. He also could crave the attention and lights that the two biggest markets provide. The problem if he returns to his current home in New York is that his weaknesses will continue to be exploited in not being able to carry a team on his shoulders, without a guaranteed sidekick. Certainly Anthony would like to prove his doubters wrong, but at the end of the day, nothing Carmelo Anthony has done has proved that he is indeed a leader. Moreover, if he continues in the direction of being a dysfunctional leader, he may forever be stuck in a winless New York.
Commentary by Simon Mounsey