Carmelo Anthony got the break he needed, as he flew to Puerto Rico after Sunday night’s All-Star Game for a couple of days to rest and refresh before practice resumes Wednesday. But the break Anthony wants is for the Knicks to get lucky and get some star power to help him and improve his chances of winning.
That might not be likely by Thursday’s trade deadline, but Anthony talked during All-Star Weekend about his “dreams” of playing with another star.
The Knicks’ odds of landing one might be better in the summer, when they will have money to spend in free agency. Realistic or not, Kevin Durant and Mike Conley Jr. will be their top targets.
Team president Phil Jackson said the Knicks would like to do something by the deadline but don’t have many “favorable trade items.”
The Knicks are 23-32 and fading, having lost 10 of 11 before the break to fall five games out of a playoff spot. They underwent one major change as Jackson fired Derek Fisher and named Kurt Rambis interim coach. Now Jackson is exploring whether the roster can be upgraded.
Point guards who reportedly are available and would be an improvement over Jose Calderon include Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio, Detroit’s Brandon Jennings and Atlanta’s Jeff Teague. Hawks guard Dennis Schroder is another possibility. But as Jackson said, the Knicks have limited assets.
“I really don’t know what’s going to happen,” Anthony said. “I haven’t been in communication with those guys.”
Anthony, who played almost 23 minutes and scored 13 points for the Eastern Conference in the Western Conference’s 196-173 win in the All-Star Game, needed to get away to rest his body and clear his mind.
He wasn’t moving very well early in the game, leading to questions about the condition of his surgically repaired left knee, but Anthony said he felt fine. He said “the goal” is to play in back-to-backs and not miss any more games. “I’m pushing,” he said. “I’m still going to take it game by game. But my goal is to play all 27 games.”
That could change if the Knicks continue their swoon and fall out of contention for a playoff spot.
The Knicks were a half-game out of eighth about three weeks ago and now are a half-game ahead of 13th-place Milwaukee. It’s not as if missing the playoffs will result in a high draft pick, either. Their 2016 pick was sent to Toronto in the Andrea Bargnani deal three summers ago.
That’s what makes these next days and months crucial for the Knicks’ future and Anthony’s.
Anthony said he won’t waive his no-trade clause, but he also said he might reconsider if the Knicks miss the playoffs for a third straight year. He said that wouldn’t “sit well” with him. But he wants every player to focus on trying to make up ground so that doesn’t happen.
“Everybody needs to realize what’s at stake now,” Anthony said. “At the end of the day, it’s going to take everybody. If this is what we want to do, we’ve got to put everything else to the side, forget about what happened with the coaching change, believe in what’s going on, buy into it and make a push.”
Kristaps Porzingis agrees. “The coaching change might be a wake-up call for all of us that we need to change something and we can’t keep playing this way,” he said. “We hope everybody gets some good rest this weekend and we come back and finally get all together, connect and play the way we need to play.”