Kristaps Porzingis, Jerian Grant, Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Kyle O’Quinn, Derrick Williams, Jose Calderon, Langston Galloway, Lance Thomas, Lou Amundson, Cleanthony Early, and Carmelo Anthony. That is the current makeup of the New York Knicks roster, and at first glance, 35 wins is a bit generous.
As I have said countless times, a rebuild is upon us in New York. The Knicks have gone through periods when they were bad, and they chose a quick fix to try and keeping a sinking ship afloat. That’s not going the cut it anymore – the team is in no shape to provide a quick fix, and with surplus cap room coming up, the rebuild might not take long, but is not too long, too long for Anthony?
Anthony is 31, coming off of a season where he was not too productive prior to having to undergo season ending surgery while also having a no-trade clause and four years left on his almost max contract.
The Knicks aren’t close to winning, and Anthony has said that his primary goal is to win, therefore, it seems only logical a breakup is possible. The Knicks had the option to pass up on re-signing Anthony last offseason, but the reality of the situation was that while chasing a ring would be significantly harder, the money was impossible to turn down in New York. Jackson had belief in his project, and when it imploded in his face midway through the season after some lackadaisical play, injuries, and trades, it seemed as if tanking was the only way that the future of the franchise would remain intact and progressive.
Knicks Staff Writer Alex Tonhazy recently wrote about whether or not Carmelo Anthony was the franchise player for the present and future, and the results of that should be eye opening.
Time have changed. Anthony is no longer the star – that position is occupied by Porzingis, the anticipated star of the future after being selected fourth overall in this years NBA draft. Jackson isn’t about to build a roster in his remaining four years that is going to win for an aging star in Anthony, he is simply laying the foundation for his successor and Porzingis’ prime.
With all of this happening around Anthony, the question that arises is where he fits in? The answer is simple. Nowhere.
Anthony will be 35 when Jackson’s contract is up, and you have to ask the question as to whether or not keeping Anthony in New York is the right move as of right now. While it would require Anthony having to waive his no-trade clause you have to think this is a better move for both parties, moving forward.
In Porzingis, Grant, Galloway, Early, Williams, O’Quinn, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and potentially Maurice NDour, the Knicks have a good foundation of youth – the only problem? They’re either unproven or will max out as role players. But as Jackson puts the emphasis on youth, there does not seem to be a place for Anthony. With Grant, Galloway, Early, and Porzingis all potentially being starters in the future (or at least that is what the goal is for Derek Fisher and company), Anthony seems to be on the outside looking in, and as each day passes, Anthony’s prime seems to be a fleeting era, that is soon to be distant in a fanbases memory.
Yes, the rebuild will be long, yes risks will be taken, but what is most important is that the Knicks eradicate their values and players of the past. It’s a new era in New York as indicated by the moves made this offseason, and Calderon, Anthony, Early and Galloway are the only returning players to this years roster. Calderon is a formidable shooter when healthy, especially off the bench where the pressure is less, but Anthony’s no-trade cause and contract are a cancer to the team. While finding a trade partner will be difficult, moving forward is necessary and shedding Anthony’s weight on the front offices shoulders will be a big part of moving forward.
By no means does this article take a shot at Anthony’s talent. Yes, he is aging in a league continuously getting younger and younger with one-and-done college superstars, but Anthony is one of the leagues best scorers and can be the final piece in a teams championship jigsaw puzzles. Just ask the Chicago Bulls last season to see what would have happened if Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Anthony, and Joakim Noah joined together. While suitors will be hard to find for his contract, interest will be there.
As hard as it is to accept the potential departure of Anthony, especially after the assets Donnie Walsh had to give up in 2011, it is necessary. Gotham is under Jackson’s control, and it’s time for him to wipe the slate clean, only Anthony remains, and with the direction the team is moving in, it would be best for both parties to see change as New York hits the reset button and Anthony chases a ring in what could be his last few chances.