SALT LAKE CITY — Carmelo Anthony was the last Knick to leave the gym as he got in a workout after practice. He might be doing this more often to stay in shape because he likely will be playing less and less.
Anthony said that coach Jeff Hornacek told the team Tuesday that he’s going to start shortening minutes for some players. With 12 games remaining and a shot at the playoffs falling further out of reach, the Knicks want to see more of the younger players and whether they have a future with the team.
The Knicks, who face the Jazz Wednesday, are closer to getting a higher draft pick than making the playoffs. They began Tuesday seven games out of the East’s last spot, but they were one game in front of Philadelphia for the NBA’s fifth-worst record and 1½ ahead of Orlando for fourth-worst. The top of the draft is point guard heavy, and the Knicks could use one.
This is an all too familiar place for Anthony, but he’s learned to accept it. The Knicks are closing in on missing the postseason for the fourth straight year.
“I’ve come to grips with that,” he said. “I’m at peace with that. I’m not happy about it. I’m not satisfied about it. But I’m at peace with it.”
Anthony played only 25 minutes in Monday’s loss to the Clippers. With the Knicks trailing by 25 after three quarters, Anthony was one of three veteran starters who never got off the bench in the fourth. Derrick Rose and Courtney Lee were the others. Rookies Ron Baker, Marshall Plumlee, Chasson Randle, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Kristaps Porzingis played all or parts of the fourth, when Justin Holiday, Lance Thomas and Sasha Vujacic also played.
Anthony said if he’s not playing, he will try to help the young guys and show them things he sees or that they should be doing.
“My role is not going to change as far as mentoring and helping guys out,” he said. “When I’m out there, I’ll play, when I’m not I’ll be helping everybody else. I don’t think my role is going to change. I’ll still come in here, get my work done and go from there.”
The Jazz game is the first of a back-to-back. The Knicks play in Portland Thursday. Anthony said there has been no conversation on whether he would sit out the second game of back-to-backs, but the Knicks likely are heading in that direction.
“If the team decides to rest me a night, I’m not going to fight it,” Anthony said. “But I’m not going to say I’m sitting out tonight.”
Hornacek honored. At halftime of Wednesday’s game, the Jazz will honor the 20th anniversary of its first NBA Finalist. Hornacek and Knicks assistant coach Howard Eisley played on that team, which lost to the Bulls in six games.