The Knicks need to get rid of Carmelo Anthony.
“You can’t get rid of Carmelo, Carmelo has to get rid of himself,” says Reggie Miller.
He’s right, of course. The Knicks are stuck with their star forward since Phil Jackson gifted him an iron-clad no-trade clause two summers ago when Anthony inked a five-year, $124 million deal to remain a Knickerbocker.
But in my humble opinion, the Knicks would be better off shipping Carmelo somewhere this summer and getting whatever they can in return. Not because he is part of the problem at Madison Square Garden—for from it, actually, and oftentimes Anthony is the only thing that’s legitimately worth watching in what’s become yet another forgettable season of basketball at The World’s Most Famous Arena.
The reason Carmelo needs to go is because he’s not part of the long term solution to finally make the Knicks a perennial winner and at an age where he’s about to enter the beginning of the downside of his career, doesn’t it make sense for both parties involved to say enough’s enough?
It’s a theory—and not exactly some revolutionary one—that I’m bouncing off Miller and two other guys who know a thing or two about the NBA.
Miller along with Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley were in New York Tuesday to field questions at the CBS/TNT March Madness Media Day in anticipation of next week’s NCAA Tournament. While I can tell you both Kenny and Charles like Michigan State and North Carolina a lot, I couldn’t leave without discussing Carmelo.
To all three I asked if the Knicks would be better off shipping Carmelo somewhere this summer because 1. He’s getting old (32 in May) and he’s headed toward the beginning of the downside of his career 2. His value will only go down over subsequent seasons and get the biggest return you can now 3. the Knicks are two or three years away from potentially being a legit title contender and by then Melo would be 35 and most likely in decline 4. let’s face it, the chances of Jackson attracting a top level free agent to New York to pair with Carmelo this summer or the next is slimmer than a Young Thug fit 5. no Knicks fans wants to continually rebuild but the team's a hell of a lot closer to the lottery than they are the playoffs so go get a controllable asset or two while hopefully clearing some cap space.
How does it make sense to keep Carmelo around for the duration of his deal? How is he part of the long term solution at the Garden?
“He’s not, probably, because they’re not going to win in the next two or three years,” Barkley said.
So would, hypothetically speaking and without worrying about matching salaries and Carmelo’s pricey trade kicker, a first rounder and a couple of solid pieces be good enough compensation for the Knicks so they can legitimately begin to build around Kristaps?
“I have no problem with that,” Barkley said. “I think [Carmelo’s] a hell of a player. They’re not going to win in his window. He’s on the downside. But you don’t know what you’re going to do in free agency. It’s a fluid situation.”
Obviously trading Anthony isn’t as easy as plugging his name into ESPN’s Trade Machine and wasting two hours of your day. For Jackson, it’s incredibly complex (no pun intended) and not exactly a good look since he’s invested so much in him.
“Why can’t [Jackson] just attract two guys that fit into a system that’s championship worthy? Smith said. “That’s your job. Not to continually rebuild. You have [Kristaps] Porzingis, you have Carmelo.”
Convincing Smith that Anthony should be shipped was futile. Still a big-time scorer, still among the NBA’s better players, Smith agreed that Carmelo isn’t the problem and could be part of a brighter future. If Jackson can actually work the kind of magic Knicks fans hoped he would when he was hired back in 2014 this summer, then the narrative changes. But how wants to come play for the Knicks when they’re still such a mess on the court?
“My point is this: if you don’t have a style of play you can’t attract free agents,” Smith said. “You can’t draft because you don’t know what fits. When Porzingis was drafted, even if I knew he was this good, and said would he fit, I don’t know because I don’t know the style the Knicks play.”
Maybe Phil’s the one that needs to go. Yeah, the Knicks are better than last year’s 17-win abomination, but are they that much better?
“I think it’s better that Phil is here,” Barkley said. “They’re better this year than last year. Last year they didn’t have NBA players. This year they actually have NBA players.”
Like Smith, Barkley pointed to the Knicks style of play—or lack thereof—as their biggest culprit. Address that and maybe you don’t need to address Carmelo.
“I’m not big on the triangle,” he said. “The triangle works when you have Michael Jordan Scottie Pippen and Kobe and Shaq. You play with other players it’s just a circle. I’ve told you that.”
The more I tried to convince Miller that shipping Carmelo was the way to go, the more he dug in his heels. Any move would have to be on Anthony’s terms, since he earned that right, he said. And it would have to the absolute right destination.
“It has to be worth it for Carmelo,” Miller said. “It doesn’t matter what the Knicks want. He has the control. If he didn’t have the control, yes, (trading him) would be the smart thing to do.”
A first rounder and some serviceable parts for Carmelo. Ship him off to the Clippers so he can go play with pal Chris Paul. How does that sound?
“If they could do it and if Carmelo said yes...yes, but there’s a lot of other factors,” Miller said. “How are (the Knicks) going to play? Who is going to be our coach? Are we going to do that triangle crap. There’s a lot of things that go into it.”
Carmelo isn’t the problem. The Knicks have so many more problems than him.
“I’m not big on the triangle,” Barkley said. “The triangle works when you have Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Kobe and Shaq. You play with other players it’s just a circle. I’ve told you that.”
The Knicks don’t have a second superstar. They’re not going to attract one this summer. Porzingis is still two or three years away from potentially being one. Get Carmelo out of here and get something for him. Reggie and Chuck endorse it. That’s good enough for me.