The Knicks are a mess.
At 10-22 following a 102-100 loss to the Rockets, with another questionable late-game shot from a Knick gunner — this time J.R. Smith — the Knicks are sinking fast int he Eastern Conference. Right now they are in a group of teams with 10 wins sitting a few games out of the playoffs, but playing so poorly that it seems like even that miniscule deficit will be difficult to make up.
That seems a little bit much considering Carmelo Anthony is a great scorer and Tyson Chandler a strong defender on that sideline. The Knicks offense is just not working anywhere near at a great rate.
And with the future sold and mortgaged to win games now in some crazy speculator's folly, any and every option needs to be on the table — including trading Carmelo Anthony.
A pair of articles written this week in the New York newspapers seriously raise this possibility as Anthony prepares to enter free agency with an early termination option available to him this summer. Both Marc Berman of the New York Post and Frank Isola of the New York Daily News suggested Anthony might be beginning to make his move out of the Big Apple.
Anthony doesn’t want to be a poster boy if the Knicks spiral into a losing era, and it could influence his thinking when he makes his decision come July. Though still undecided, there’s part of him that may want to bail if he thinks the Knicks’ ship completely sinks. He does not want to be the scapegoat.
Berman also quoted an anonymous source saying Anthony did not want to end up being another Stephon Marbury. Anthony saw Marbury continuously heckled while he sat behind the Knicks bench on Christmas Day. That would likely be Anthony's future if he cannot deliver a title to New York . . . or at least a few more deep Playoff runs.
Here is what Isola had to add, quoting a former longtime teammate:
I think he’s leaving. I’ve played with Melo for a long time and he knows he can’t win here. At this stage, all he wants to do is win. That’s why he’ll leave.
Some of it is pretty clear rumor. Anthony has not said anything — except to insult a fan on Twitter who called him a "disappointment."
Yet, if the grumblings are starting there has to be some fire to this moke. The summer is a long ways away and the Knicks could still turn things around and make a surprise runi n the Eastern Conference. It is the Eastern Conference after all and nobody is too far out of the race.
Things are not looking good for New York right now though. And if that continues Anthony has to at least consider doing more than just "testing" free agency.
The Knicks appear to have taken that step to some extent too. Chris Broussard of ESPN reports the Knicks and Clippers have independently discussed a Melo-for-Blake Griffin swap internally. The report goes on to state that the Clippers thinking is to stick with Griffin and turn down such a deal if it were presented.
This should highlight the difficult spot the Knicks are in. With $91.2 million committed to next year's team and significant money coming off the books for 2015 — Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler all woudl come off the books that year in a rare stroke of sound financial planning — the Knicks have to weather this storm and convince Anthony help is coming.
Whether Carmelo Anthony can wait will determine where the Knicks move next this season.