Not all that long ago, Carmelo Anthony was the king of the New York basketball world. He was a perennial All-Star, the centerpiece of the Knicks’ most recent rebuild and one of three players in the NBA with an ironclad no-trade clause.
Well, Anthony still has an ironclad no-trade cause, but everything else that once defined his tenure as a Knick seems to be as tenuous as the Knicks’ playoff hopes. This all hit home in a 30-hour period that ended with the Knicks’ 110-107 win over Charlotte on Friday night.
In the span of a little more than a day, Anthony was hit with the disappointing news that he would not be playing in the All-Star Game for the first time in eight seasons, was the subject of a number of distracting trade rumors, was booed by a smattering of fans after missing some late shots — and was hailed by his teammates as a hero after hitting the most important bucket of the game.
Afterward, Anthony admitted that dealing with the daily drama can be exhausting.
“It can be. It can be,” he said. “You have to deal with it, even though I try not to read it. Everywhere you go, even if you don’t hear about it, someone is saying something. It can be mentally draining, mentally fatiguing. Then you have to get up and reshift your focus to playing basketball.”
Anthony said you have to be a unique kind of person to make it in New York City. “You got to be cut from a different cloth to take this day in and day out, to deal with this all day long every day,’’ he said. “You have to take the good with the bad. I don’t know how I do it, but I do it.”
Anthony declined to comment specifically on various trade rumors concerning him that were swirling around the league. ESPN reported yesterday that the Knicks and the Clippers were looking for a third team to facilitate a trade that would send Anthony to Los Angeles without the Clippers having to give up Chris Paul, Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan.
The Clippers have maintained a consistent interest in Anthony, who has two years and approximately $53 million left on his contract. Clippers coach Doc Rivers said yesterday that he will do whatever is necessary to make his team better, including trading his son Austin. The Clippers also confirmed to ESPN that the Knicks had approached them about trading Anthony.
Anthony is one of only three players in the league with a full no-trade clause, along with LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki. Though he has yet to sign off on any trade, the Knicks are trying to engage teams they believe he would consent to joining. Anthony recently told Newsday that he would consider waiving the no-trade clause if “they tell me they want to scrap this whole thing.”
Anthony said before the game that the basketball court is a release for him.
“Yeah. Being able to go out there and play basketball. That’s the fun part for me,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about anything at that point. I try not to think about it. It’s a little difficult not to think about it. I’m definitely not, 50 minutes before a game, thinking about that right now.”
Still, in the middle of all this trade talk, Anthony continues to be looked at as the leader on the team, coach Jeff Hornacek said. Anthony, who scored 18 points Friday night, shot only 8-for-26 but hit a turnaround jumper to give the Knicks a 109-105 lead with 13 seconds left.
“They all tend to look at Carmelo when things get tough,” Hornacek said. “It’s like, OK, get Carmelo the ball because he’s produced for so many years and he’s producing this year. It’s not just the young guys. It’s the older veteran guys who have come to play with Carmelo. They see him as the main guy on this team, and that’s why they look for him.”
At least for now.