By Will Stevenson
As the sports world reunites for the fall schedule, the College Football scene and the lacklusterness of NFL Quarterbacking has dominated the conversation. So here we are, on September 21st, and Carmelo Anthony has yet to be traded. The entire NBA 2017 offseason has been fueled by changes to NBA Front Offices that are inspiring to eventually take down the Golden State Warriors. In the case of the New York Knicks, that would not be the case.
What had started as a smear campaign led by former Knicks President and insurgent Phil Jackson, has now dwindled down to this: Will Carmelo Anthony walk into training camp as a Knick? A Rocket? Or maybe even a Trailblazer? With the Knicks bringing in former Orlando Magic and Sacramento King’s Front Office personnel into their front office, they seem to want to continue future ‘Knick-dom’ in spite of the previous shortcomings. The decision on whether or not to trade Anthony doesn’t seem like a real question of why — It has now begun to focus on when.
The Knicks, like many teams in the NBA, have constructed poor rosters filled with average players and below average contracts. Of course, having Kristaps and Willy Hernangomez on rookie contracts is nothing average, but will the sins of Phil Jackson continue to hurt the Knicks going forward? They allowed Jackson to run two of their only “stars” into the public mud throughout the season and into the offseason. They allowed Jackson to sign Noah to a max deal, and continue to hamstring Jeff Hornacek with the triangle. Could this be the year the Knicks crawl out of the lottery and into the playoffs this season? Probably not. But I will say they have a better opportunity to make a run with Carmelo Anthony, rather than without him.
So where does Carmelo end up: Rockets? Trailblazers? A mystery team? Carmelo was given his No-Trade Clause by Jackson, and he has used it in every possible way. How freeing is it to watch a 33-year-old scorer scoff at the idea of a company attempting to get rid of him? I know many people view Anthony as a ball-hog, ball-dominant selfish player, but I would remind you to look at who he plays for. Anthony plays for an organization that has not lived up to any expectations as a basketball franchise. From free agent signings, coaching changes, firings, drafting and front office moves, Anthony has been the one constant fans could count on.
The Rockets have been adamant about not adjusting their trade offer that will only include Ryan Anderson, a sharpshooting big man with no defense and would quickly be pushed to the bench in small-ball lineups. The Blazers seem to be the best fit as far as trade pieces, but if the Blazers haven’t learned from last season with their acquisition of a ball-dominant forward, then they will never learn. They acquired Evan Turner last offseason and his mix with Lillard and McCollum was nothing to love. The Rockets, who have ensured their bench with 3 and D veteran wings have the opportunity to bring in Anthony for a one-year rental, along with Chris Paul whom they acquired this offseason via trade.
The way the trade market has been saturated with leaks and inside information has almost lowered the leverage any of these teams had at one point in time. The Kings, Pacers, Celtics, and Bulls have given opposing teams hope that they too can trade crumbled chips for a star on the way out. Anthony isn’t causing issues on the court, nor in the locker room. He isn’t being investigated, arrested, or being accused of being a cancer to the younger players on the team. So what is the problem? Most are just angry that Anthony hasn’t led them to a title, or even the Conference Finals, even though Anthony has been the same player throughout his career.
Once Anthony is traded, finally, Knicks fans will move over to the next victim: Kristaps Porzingis. Because once Anthony cannot be blamed, you will realize it wasn’t his fault, to begin with.