The New York Knicks are driving superstar Carmelo Anthony out of town with the horrific performance of all the players around him, and subsequently the team as a whole. Melo is having one of his better seasons and has made a conscious effort to improve areas of his game besides scoring, but his fellow Knicks have not taken that same step forward. Heading into free agency this summer, what once appeared to be a match made in heaven may now be leaning towards becoming one ugly divorce.
It has been a roller coaster of a season for the Knicks, only there were very few fun parts of the ride. For the majority of the season, defense was actually not the problem for the Knicks, unlike the past few years. The problem has been a combination of injuries, selfishness and overall awful basketball being played by a lot of once-reliable veterans. The Knicks got walloped by the Chicago Bulls today by a score of 109-90, the team’s sixth consecutive loss and ninth in the past ten games. New York has given up over 107 points in each of the six games during the streak.
Amidst the chaos, Anthony is second in the league in scoring at 28.2 points a game. He is also averaging a career-high 8.7 rebounds as well as 0.7 blocks while lowering his turnovers to a career-low 2.4. He is shooting a career-high 42 percent from three-point range and has rededicated himself on the defensive end. Over the course of his career Anthony has shouldered a lot of blame for his teams underperforming, but this season is 100 percent not on him. He recently explained to the New York Daily News that this season will be weighing heavily on his free agency decision this coming offseason.
“A lot of things (are) going to be thought about when that time comes,” Anthony told Frank Isola. “Off the court, on the court, just a lot of things (are) going to have to be put all on the table.”
How quickly it has been forgotten that the Knicks won 54 games last season, which puts this season into even a more embarrassing perspective. Ownership has basically tossed draft picks into the fireplace and made ill-advised trades and free agency decisions, further contributing to driving Carmelo Anthony out of town. Off the court problems, such as J.R. Smith losing his mind and Raymond Felton facing years in jail, have done nothing but mitigate the situation. On the court, the guy who was supposed to be Anthony’s main sidekick can barely play 20 minutes a game due to a history of knee issues. Amar’e Stoudemire just is not what he once was and likely never will be. One could argue that rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. is the only bright spot on this entire roster besides Anthony. It has been assumed that since Anthony fought so hard to wind up in New York that he would never leave, but that is no longer the case.
“He has been in the league for a long time,” said Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard to the USA Today in regards to Anthony’s impending free agency. “He hasn’t made it to the Finals and at this point in his career he wants to win,” he added.
Howard found himself in a very similar situation last year. After years of complaining his way out of Orlando, Howard was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. His happy-go-lucky style of play and underwhelming season did not sit well, and the team failed to meet expectations. He then made the surprising decision this past offseason to leave Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in the dust and join the Houston Rockets. The move resulted in him leaving some money on the table, but Houston is 40-19 while the Lakers are 20-39.
The New York Knicks are driving Carmelo Anthony out of town due to a number of reasons. Very little has gone right compared to last season, and there are almost no enticing players on the roster that could convince Anthony to stay. The man who was supposed to save this franchise is now looking towards the future, which could very well be greener pastures outside of New York City.
Commentary by Justin Hussong
New York Daily News