Carmelo Anthony laced up his sneakers and wore the Knicks’ home white uniform for perhaps one last time instead of spending what could have been his final game with the team on the bench in a blazer.
But Anthony was on the bench with a towel draped over his head for the last 15:03, despite chants of “We want Melo” late in the game. If it was Anthony’s farewell game as a Knick it ended the way it started — with a win.
The Knicks closed out 2016-17 with a 114-113 win over the 76ers at the Garden and finished the season 31-51. The Knicks tied Minnesota for the sixth-worst record in the league. A a random drawing will determine which of the two teams has a better chance to win the lottery.
Anthony, who scored 17 points but didn’t have a field goal in the second half, isn’t sure if he will be back with the Knicks and said he has a lot to think about.
“I don’t know,” he said. “To be honest with you, I don’t know. I’ll know more in the upcoming weeks or so.”
Anthony said he wants to come back but he wants to see changes. The number one thing he wants is to win. The Knicks missed the playoffs for the fourth straight year. They had made it Anthony’s first three seasons after forcing a trade from Denver in 2011.
“I would love to be back,” Anthony said. “But there’s some things I would love to see different: just the mentality, just a winning mentality and wanting to win and being committed to that.”
The Knicks were expected to contend for a playoff berth, but after a 16-13 start, their season went downhill.
They tried to deal Anthony before the trade deadline and are expected to again and start building around Kristaps Porzingis, who didn’t play in the finale because of a sore lower back.
Anthony has a no-trade clause so ultimately it’s his say whether he wants to stay or go. But leading up to the last game he dropped hints that he might be ready to leave New York. He said he didn’t know his role with the team, and that he could “see the writing on the wall.”
The popular belief is that Anthony, whose strained relationship with team president Phil Jackson has been well documented, will move on if it’s to play for a contending team.
He admitted that he was ready to move on before the trade deadline.
“Yeah there was a point in time when I didn’t think I would be back here,” Anthony said.
That’s an indication that Anthony would have waived his no-trade for the right team. And he wouldn’t rule it out if he doesn’t like what Jackson, general manager Steve Mills and coach Jeff Hornacek says in the exit meeting about the direction of the team.
“At this point it’s all on me,” Anthony said. “I have a lot of thinking and reflecting to do. It’s all on me at this point. I’m pretty sure the organization has an idea, a thought of what they want to do, how they want to do it. But at this point it’s all on me.”
Anthony practiced Tuesday, but Hornacek said that he didn’t expect Anthony to play because of the sore left knee that kept him out of the prior two games. Anthony said his plan all along was to play in the final game.
He sounded as if he was looking forward to his exit interview with Jackson so he could let him know how feels about everything that’s been said and done.
As of now, the Knicks are not planning to make Anthony or Jackson available to the media after that meeting. If he hears the Knicks are going younger it could push him out the door.
“Then that’s a decision I have to make,” Anthony said. “I have to figure it out at that point. It won’t be a rushed decision. I can tell you that. But it would have to be a decision I really sit down and think about and figure it out and kind of really put what’s important to me at this point in my career, which is winning.”