Will he stay or will he go? Carmelo Anthony’s future has been heavily talked about within the past weeks, and for New Yorkers and Knicks fans especially its been nerve racking and worrisome. The hot topic of Melo’s future is similar to LeBron’s big decision 4 years ago, and the curiosity of what’s to come is as foggy as an Amsterdam “coffee” shop.
Without a doubt, Carmelo Anthony has been SPECTACULAR to Knicks fans. Most refer to him as the Knicks’ savior, and even though he certainly is in a sense, Carmelo Anthony won’t save the Knicks this season and it’s not his fault. That alone is why I can’t and won’t blame Carmelo Anthony if he decides to leave New York after this embarrassing, atrocious season.
For a guy that goes so hard night in and night out and has been extremely healthy, it’s very frustrating to lose with a team that should be winning. Tyson Chandler recently echoed the same sentiments when he let out his frustrations and declared his uncertain future with the Knicks. For the Big Apple faithful, it’s very unfortunate that things turned out this way and the Knicks have backtracked this season after slowly progressing the previous two. After this season ends without a playoff appearance, or an embarrassing one, it’s back to a drawing board with virtually no utensils for the Knicks who have no draft picks to look forward to and immovable and unwanted pieces (Amare Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, and whoever else angry New Yorkers want to throw in the fire).
As for Melo, he’s the pinnacle of it all and the center of attention. The Knicks want to keep their superstar and there’s no doubt in my mind that Carmelo Anthony is comfortable in New York and actually wants to stay and succeed in the Mecca, but his window is seemingly closing and the future looks dim and uncertain unless he (and now new Knicks President Phil Jackson) can attract players to come to the Garden. Nonetheless, it’s no secret that Carmelo wants to win a championship title more than anything else, and that’s exactly what it boils down to for athletes nowadays in sports – they want the glory and they want the precious ring and allure that comes with it. LeBron James made the necessary move and decision and look what happened, 3 straight NBA Finals appearances and 2 rings. Alliances and good personnel form for the common goal of winning at any cost, and for Melo specifically, winning isn’t revealingly imminent in the Big Apple even with Phil Jackson new to the front office.
Not to be negative Nancy the analyst or anything, but the last time I checked Phil Jackson was not an active NBA player. Even if he was, (besides from being a little too old to currently play) in his prime we all know Phil Jackson was an off-the-bench role player in the background of superstars such as Willis Reed and Walt Frazier. On the other hand, if he decided to coach again, it’d be a completely different story because everyone knows what Phil brings to the table as a coach, and certainly that in itself would lure players to the Mecca. As far as luring players from the front office and making the best possible moves for the Knicks, I simply question, “How?” The Knicks have big salary cap issues, no draft picks like Shumpert or Hardaway on the way, and players that other teams would not want in trade proposals or future deals. I have no doubt that Phil Jackson IS the right man to help the Knicks franchise turn their fortune and reputation around, but as far as an instant and significant change I’ve got to see it to believe it this offseason and next season.
This very predicament has led to the debate of will Melo fight or flight. Other suitors that could land the all-star forward have been names like the Los Angeles Lakers (Clippers too), Houston Rockets, and Chicago Bulls, even though every team that can offer him will offer him one way or another. If he does jump ship, wherever he goes will presumably be a title contender automatically just like the Miami Heat were when LeBron came to town. Sadly for the Knicks, there are other teams out there with better personnel and team chemistry that need a Carmelo Anthony to ultimately seal the deal and push further than they have in recent years.
Melo in L.A. has been implied for a while, but it doesn’t seem likely. It would make a lot more sense if Kevin Love went with him too, but Love declared otherwise when he noted that the Timberwolves were a better team. Nevertheless, a Melo/Kobe tag team doesn’t scream a championship right away, but it could be something that would be scary if it actually meshed together and worked. Think about it. Although both stars primarily occupy the ball most of the time, if they attacked from separate wings with Kendall Marshall at the point, and some more interior help, you have a classic Lakers title team. In addition, Bryant and Anthony are basically best friends and I’m sure they could make it work better than most people initially assume and Kobe would surely sacrifice a bit to get one more ring and help Melo get his first. It’s a long shot that doesn’t seem to fit on paper, but with an organization like L.A. that always makes moves and attracts players, I wouldn’t completely turn my cheek. The fact that Jeanie Buss and Phil are engaged still wouldn’t mar a deal because they’ve been put on notice by the NBA, and Jeanie doesn’t deal directly with the basketball operations anyway, so there is a slight possibility. With Nash and Kobe basically being the only players signed through next season, this team has a lot of upside and room to grow, and it would ultimately be Melo’s team to inherit in a season or two anyway with the exit of Kobe Bryant and shedding of his major contract, which would allow them to continue to sign and gain more high profile players to contend as they always have. A long shot scenario, but not too farfetched.
Two other sensible places that will probably offer Carmelo would be Houston and the L.A. Clips. These two teams already have their main pieces and superstars in place, but by adding a primary focal point and veteran whose ready to win ASAP in Carmelo Anthony, they’d be virtually unstoppable and a Western Conference Finals front runner automatically. While the contract situations and roster scenarios may be a little cloudy with these two teams and their ability to sign a high profile player like Melo, if they can they will certainly attempt to do so. I’m sure the Rockets would trade Asik, Parsons, and Terrance Jones in a heartbeat, and the Clippers would clip anyone but D.J., CP3, and Blake to add another Jordan Brand athlete to the mix. But of course, we’ll have to wait and see how realistic those two destinations could really be in terms of logistics.
Lastly, the most sensible and possible place Melo could be playing for next year is the Windy City. With the Chicago Bulls I think an instant championship is imminent. He would join a team who is strong and can win games without their superstar point guard. Despite having to let go of Carlos Boozer in order to acquire Melo, the Bulls would still boast a stronger interior and frontcourt than the Knicks with all-star center Joakim Noah bringing his hard-nosed intensity every night. The shedding of Luol Deng’s contract also helps because that freed cap space to sign someone else in the offseason and make more moves to add to the frontcourt. Even more so they have great role players and a team system like the Miami Heat do and all they’d need is a solid backup big man or two, and possibly a stretch two guard.
All Carmelo would have to do is come in and be the same superstar talent he has been for the Knicks. Rose can take tons of pressure off of himself by catering to Melo, and players like Noah, Jimmy Butler, and whoever else they acquire would help round out a great group of championship contenders. It makes the most sense for Melo to go to Chicago because of what they already have in place, and the likelihood they’d have in winning the East and subsequently an NBA Championship. With the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony is currently wasting his efforts by putting up career numbers and percentages while the rest of his teammates post subpar seasons and numbers. With the Bulls, Melo would get paid 4 million less (which he’s stated he doesn’t mind) and would be with a better squad, coach, and fans. He and Rose could be the first to bring them a title since Jordan left, and we know Melo loves to embrace and take on challenges, so it wouldn’t be a lost cause leaving New York because he’d be doing the same thing for Chicago upon landing there. This would be the perfect place for him to naturally fit into and chase a realistic championship ring with other hungry guys and an outstanding coach also looking for their first. It’s really a no brainer: if he leaves the Knicks, he’s going to Chicago. The deal is just too sweet and it makes so much sense.
As a Knicks fan it KILLS me to say that, but it’s the ugly truth. In order to stop that from happening, hopefully Phil Jackson and a huge offseason move or signing could influence Melo’s decision sooner, but if it’s not an elite point guard or someone demanding to be a Knickerbocker it’s going to be a sinking ship for the Knicks if Phil alone can’t persuade him to stay, and everyone’s going to wonder why James Dolan didn’t trade Carmelo Anthony before the deadline if he really does leave. On the other hand, if Carmelo actually does stay after he’s had the joy of testing out free agency, whatever that means, that loyal factor would positively boost his character, image, and integrity, and earn him even more respect in a sense. Him returning and being part of a major conquest for a desperate New York championship would be significant, and if he eventually gets it, it would be asterisked and weighted like a challenging college course or seminar.
When it comes down to it, the acquisition of Zen Master Phil Jackson may have allowed the force to be with us, and saved Melo from running away from a despicable, incomprehensible team. I commend Phil Jackson for returning to his roots and his love of basketball by taking on the challenge to clean up New York’s mess. I have no doubt or worries that New York is headed in the right direction within the next 2 to 5 years, and the fact that Melo has been reassured that he is the focal point of those plans may be all that is needed to keep the superstar in the Garden for good. Its all depends on fate and the basketball gods now about the future of Carmelo Anthony, but if I were Phil Jackson, I’d just say “Thank me later.”