It’s become another lost season for Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks.
At 28-41, the Knicks are out of the playoff race, setting up an important summer, where, without a draft pick, they will have to improve the team through free agency.
For Anthony, it’s a crucial summer, too, as he has to weigh his future as he hits the backend of his prime.
Anthony will turn 32 this summer and has stated he wants to win a championship in New York. The Knicks are far from championship contention, which has Anthony starting to put pressure on the Knicks’ front office to make strides. He recently said he would like to be involved in free agency pitches this summer, and in an interview with Yahoo’s Marc J. Spears, he hinted at growing impatient with a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in three seasons.
“I don’t want to say a sense of urgency,” Anthony said of his mindset at this stage of his career. “I think it’s more of stability, consistency. I got to find something that I can be comfortable with and still enjoy it at the same time, still have fun at the same time. … This is a big, big summer.”
Anthony didn’t discuss specifics of what he thinks the Knicks need to do, but he clearly put the onus on Phil Jackson and the Knicks front office to build a good team.
“I think we need something we can put together that is going to be there over the next couple of years. Now it’s time to start competing for a championship, not just competing for the playoffs. Those days for me are over with. … It’s not going to happen overnight. But the ball is not in my court at this point. It comes to what [the front office] wants to do in the offseason. It’s up to them to make those decisions and at that time I will figure it out.”
“At this point, it’s more show me rather than tell me. That’s where I am at.”
With a weak free agent class in 2016 and a growing salary cap that will afford nearly every team cap space, the Knicks will have trouble turning it around in just one offseason.
This is the crossroads the Knicks are approaching. On one hand, they have Anthony, in the backend of his prime, trying to compete for a championship. On the other hand, they have Kristaps Porzingis, a 20-year-old who’s shown flashes of two-way stardom and looks like the team’s future. The two players’ timelines don’t match, and thus, there’s pressure to add win-now veterans for Anthony and young talent to grow with Porzingis.
These two timelines have helped fuel speculation about trading Anthony. The problem with that is Anthony holds a no-trade clause, meaning he has to approve any trade. Reports indicate he prefers to remain in New York and there are very few teams he would accept trades to. Though Anthony acknowledged a rebuild won’t happen overnight, ESPN’s Ian Begley reported that some people within the Knicks feel he might be more open to a trade if the Knicks don’t improve quickly. But for now, Anthony seems committed to New York.
Jackson and the Knicks have a juggling act on their hands. How can they build a team ready to compete immediately while also setting up a future with Porzingis? Anthony has put pressure on them to improve and take serious steps this summer, and if they fail to do so, they may find themselves having to pivot their direction.
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