After a recent practice, Carmelo Anthony joked around with members of the 1999 Knicks team, which reached the NBA Finals. Two of them, Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby, were Anthony’s former teammates.
They played together in 2012-13 on the 54-28 team, far and away the best Knicks team Anthony played on after forcing a trade from the Nuggets. It also was the last Knicks team to reach the playoffs.
Four straight losing seasons have marred Anthony’s time as the Knicks’ franchise player. That time could be nearing an end.
Anthony has said he “can see the writing on the wall.”
Either of the last two games could be his final one in a Knicks uniform.
During the offseason, team president Phil Jackson is expected to try to move Anthony, who appears to be worn down by the losing and his sour relationship with Jackson. Anthony said he is looking forward to his exit meeting with Jackson this week to give him a piece of his mind.
“The chips will be on the table in that meeting,” Anthony said.
Anthony has a no-trade clause, so he can veto any deal. But he probably won’t get to play with a contending team, especially one that includes LeBron James or Chris Paul, Anthony’s two closest friends in the NBA.
The Cavaliers and Clippers are hoping for deep playoff runs, so this process could take a while. How they do will determine how eager they are to make a move, and don’t expect Jackson to get equal value for the perennial All-Star.
If this is Anthony’s last game or two, how will his Knicks career be remembered?
He helped them reach the postseason three times, leading them to one series victory. He was an MVP candidate the season they won 54 games. He set Knicks and MSG records when he scored 62 points against Charlotte in 2014. He helped mentor Kristaps Porzingis, kept the pressure off him in his first two NBA seasons and prepared him for playing in New York.
But Anthony’s acquisition from Denver in 2011 depleted the Knicks of young players and draft picks. He clashed with former coach Mike D’Antoni, didn’t like his system and couldn’t successfully co-exist with Amar’e Stoudemire.
Anthony never gave as much effort on defense as offense, and he could be a ball-stopper. And missing the playoffs for four straight years hangs on his resume, even if he had help.
But he’s still a terrific scorer — someone a team can go to when it needs a bucket, someone who can go off at any time, someone who can carry a team and hit game-winning shots.
The Knicks would miss that Anthony. There aren’t many players like that, and they’ve had one the past 6 1⁄2 seasons.
Could they still have him next season? Unlikely. Anthony isn’t the only one who can see the writing on the wall.
THE AWARDS SHOW
With the regular season ending Wednesday, we hand out our postseason awards:
The candidates: James Harden (Rockets), LeBron James (Cavs), Kawhi Leonard (Spurs), Isaiah Thomas (Celtics), John Wall (Wizards), Russell Westbrook (Thunder)
Our take: Harden led Houston to the NBA’s third-best record, but Westbrook had a historic season. He’s only the second player to average a triple-double. The relentless Westbrook doesn’t miss games to rest. He plays hard every minute and carried the Thunder to the playoffs.
COACH OF THE YEAR
The candidates: Scott Brooks (Wizards), Mike D’Antoni (Rockets), Quin Snyder (Jazz), Erik Spoelstra (Heat), Brad Stevens (Celtics)
Our take: Stevens continues to show he’s one of the NBA’s best coaches. Snyder, Spoelstra and Brooks all had great years. But D’Antoni converted Harden into a point guard and his speed-ball system helped make Houston formidable and tough to defend and beat.
Rookie of the Year
The candidates: Malcolm Brogdon (Bucks), Joel Embiid (76ers), Dario Saric (76ers).
Our take: Embiid would have won easily, but he played in only 31 games. Brogdon, a second-round pick, was a surprise for a team headed to the playoffs. Saric had better numbers and became the 76ers’ featured guy when they lost Embiid.
Sixth Man of the Year
The candidates: Marco Belinelli (Hornets), Jamal Crawford (Clippers), Eric Gordon (Rockets), Andre Iguodala (Warriors), Enes Kanter (Thunder), Patty Mills (Spurs), Zach Randolph (Grizzlies), Lou Williams (Lakers/Rockets)
Our take: Iguodala remains a rock off the bench, and few are as reliable as Crawford, a three-time winner. But Gordon beats out Williams, who was traded to Houston in February. Gordon put up big stats on one of the NBA’s best teams so his impact meant more.
Most Improved Player
The candidates: Devin Booker (Suns), Seth Curry (Mavericks), Tim Hardaway Jr. (Hawks), James Johnson (Heat), Nikola Jokic (Nuggets), Otto Porter, Jr., Yusef Nurkic (Nuggets/Blazers)
Our take: The NBA’s other Curry proved he can play. But Jokic went from a good rookie to looking like the Nuggets’ franchise player. The 6-10 Jokic is either first or second on Denver in scoring, rebounds and assists, and his six triple-doubles rank fourth in the NBA.
Defensive Player of the Year
The candidates: Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Rudy Gobert (Jazz), Draymond Green (Warriors), DeAndre Jordan (Clippers), Kawhi Leonard (Spurs), Hassan Whiteside (Heat)
Our take: Gobert stood tall for the NBA’s stingiest defense. But it’s a toss-up between Leonard and Green. Leonard won the past two years and is worthy again. But Green gets the nod for his versatility and ability to guard all different players and anchoring that team that’s more known for its offense.
First-Team: Russell Westbrook (Thunder), James Harden (Rockets), Kawhi Leonard (Spurs), LeBron James (Cavaliers), DeAndre Jordan (Clippers)
Second-Team: Steph Curry (Warriors), Isaiah Thomas (Celtics), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Marc Gasol (Grizzlies)
Third-Team: John Wall (Wizards), DeMar DeRozan (Raptors), Kevin Durant (Warriors), Jimmy Butler (Bulls), DeMarcus Cousins (Kings/Pelicans)
First-Team: Malcolm Brogdon (Bucks), Jamal Murray (Nuggets), Buddy Hield (Pelicans/Kings), Dario Saric (76erss), Joel Embiid (76ers),
Second-Team: Yogi Ferrell (Mavericks), Brandon Ingram (Lakers), Domantas Sabonis (Thunder), Marquese Chriss (Suns), Willy Hernangomez (Knicks)