Carmelo Anthony has had a rough week. He didn’t make the All-Star team for the first time in eight years, knows the Knicks are openly shopping him and heard boos at the Garden throughout Friday night’s game.
Up to now, Anthony has said it is hard for him to think about waiving his no-trade clause, about turning his back on his teammates and looking to leave as they try to make something out of the season. The Knicks’ front office, particularly Phil Jackson, and the fans are making it easier.
Jackson and the Knicks’ front office are talking to the Clippers and the Cavaliers, two teams looking for additional help to improve their chances of winning a championship.
If Anthony waives the no-trade clause to team with Chris Paul or LeBron James, it won’t be because of the fans, but you can’t blame him for feeling unappreciated.
Anthony has his flaws. He doesn’t go all-out on defense the way he does on offense, and he believes his shot is the best one on most possessions. But he’s a main reason the Knicks are even in many games.
The Knicks are 70-142 under Jackson’s watch, yet Anthony suddenly is the biggest problem.
You could see Anthony not wanting to lose a power struggle with Jackson. You also could see Anthony saying he’s had enough.
It’s time — if Anthony hasn’t done it already — to start thinking about waiving the no-trade clause and talking to his family about leaving New York. After the Knicks return Wednesday morning from a two-game road trip, they’re home for two weeks. Anthony also has the All-Star break free. That gives him time to figure out his future before the Feb. 23 trade deadline.
If a deal can be reached with the Cavaliers or Clippers, a chance to play with one of his friends and for a winner could and should be appealing enough for Anthony to accept a trade. In both cases, it likely would take a third team because neither has first-round draft picks or good young players to offer. Neither team is moving its main players.
For Anthony, the Knicks have to get young players and picks. They have to get real assets.
But the Knicks’ front office should know that the veterans acquired last offseason won’t be happy if Anthony is moved.
The Knicks haven’t performed like a playoff team lately, but trading Anthony for role players will all but ensure that they’re not getting there. Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings didn’t sign for that. They came to play with Anthony, Derrick Rose and Kristaps Porzingis, thinking they could compete for a playoff spot and even challenge once the postseason started. That’s not happening now.
The Knicks should look into moving Rose too. Maybe first. Rose, who is on an expiring contract, is a defensive liability who already deserted the team on a game night and does not appear to be a part of the long-term solution.
If the Knicks are going to rebuild, then go for a full rebuild. Anthony isn’t the only one to blame for the Knicks’ woes, and he shouldn’t be the scapegoat.
GIVE AND GO
* Zach LaVine told Minnesota reporters that he won’t shoot for a third straight Slam Dunk Contest crown during All-Star Weekend. He would rather have the weekend off to rest, hoping the T-Wolves can make a playoff push after the break. Last year’s runner-up, Aaron Gordon, who many believe should have won, should be the favorite.
* LeBron James on the players’ All-Star voting results: “There’s always goofy votes. Donald Trump is our president.”
* Philadelphia rookie and future All-Star Joel Embiid had a great Twitter response after not making the team: “Once again, the popular vote didn’t matter.” Embiid also tweeted that “the date is not gonna happen,” referring to his crush on Rihanna.
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are teammates again and probably will play together. We’re talking about next month’s All-Star Game in New Orleans. This was inevitable, but it will be interesting nonetheless.
Western Conference coach Steve Kerr has to have Westbrook and Durant on the court at the same time. They’ll be forced to speak and play off each other, as they did for the Thunder before Durant left for Golden State.
It’s very hard to argue with the coaches’ picks for All-Star reserves.
Isaiah Thomas, John Wall, Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker, Paul George, Kevin Love and Paul Millsap all play for teams that were in the top seven in the Eastern Conference coming into the weekend.
Westbrook, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward, DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins and Marc Gasol were the Western Conference picks.
Some say the West took too many centers, and that Portland guard Damian Lillard, who is averaging 26.2 points, deserved to make it.
But Jordan plays on the NBA’s fifth-best team and has been a constant with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin missing extended time. Cousins has been the best big man, period.
The 30-18 Jazz needed to be represented. Hayward over Rudy Gobert works because then there really would have been too many bigs.
The Knicks aren’t the only team that should be busy before the trade deadline.
The Clippers, Cavaliers, Celtics and Thunder want to add impact players, weapons to help them in the playoffs. Anthony would help all of them. But we digress.
The 76ers, Magic, Pistons, Suns, Kings and Nuggets could be active, and the dysfunctional Bulls are in need of a shakeup.
The Bulls fined their three highest-profile players — Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo — on Friday. Wade and Butler publicly called out and ripped teammates after a loss Wednesday and were held out of the starting lineup Friday.
Rondo shot back, questioning Wade’s and Butler’s leadership skills in a strongly worded Instagram post.
Other Bulls were on the defensive in tweets after Wade and Butler questioned how much their teammates care and said certain players shouldn’t be taking shots in crunch time.
Coach Fred Hoiberg’s hold on the locker room isn’t strong. He has used an incomprehensible point guard rotation in which players start for a stretch of games and then get benched for a stretch. It’s happened to Michael Carter-Williams, Rondo and former Knick Jerian Grant.
The 76ers, Magic, Pistons, Suns, Kings, and Nuggets also could be active.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr was dead on when he said the players should have taken their voting for the All-Star starters more seriously. Players who haven’t played a game received votes. “I am very disappointed in the players,’’ Kerr said. ‘They’ve asked for a vote and a lot of them just made a mockery of it. I don’t know what the point is.”
Probably more, but that’s because you can vote for yourself and your teammates. The NBA needs to fix this next year.