Carmelo Anthony Injury Hurting New York Knicks’ Playoff Hopes

The Carmelo Anthony injury to his right shoulder has obviously been hurting his shot and the New York Knicks’ playoff hopes. In a professional sports culture that criticizes athletes for being injury prone or too soft, Carmelo Anthony continues to play through a severely bruised, possibly even sprained, right shoulder. For a New York Knicks team fighting to make the playoffs, is it possible that Carmelo Anthony’s desire to “play through” the pain might actually be hurting his team?

Knicks coach Mike Woodson is pushing to keep Carmelo Anthony on the court in spite of the injury. When the Knicks took the practice floor on Wednesday, Anthony joined his teammates for conditioning work outs. “We wouldn’t allow him to do any contact today, but he went through the conditioning part at the top of practice and got through that,” Woodson said. “He’s basically rehabbing and getting ready for Friday.”

Conventional wisdom would suggest that getting Carmelo Anthony on the court no matter what is necessary for the New York Knicks to catch the Atlanta Hawks for the eight and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. With only four games remaining for both teams, the magic number is at two. If the Hawks can win just half of their remaining games, they lock down the eighth spot. If Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks lose two games, they are done.

But is Carmelo Anthony playing through the injury the right answer? In the two games since suffering the injury, Anthony is shooting 29 percent from the field, has scored 23 points combined, and has committed 11 turnovers. Not only do the stats point to the Carmelo Anthony injury being a problem, but he looks miserable on the court. Unfortunately, the Knicks are already shorthanded with Andrea Bargnani and Kenyon Martin out with injuries.

In spite of the injuries, it seems the Knicks and Mike Woodson have more to gain by resting Carmelo Anthony and giving more minutes to Tim Hardaway Jr. (struggling through his own ankle injury) and Iman Shumpert. If the Knicks make the playoffs, Anthony is rested and ready to play. If they are unable to make it, Hardaway Jr. gets more playing time and opportunity to build experience for his future with the Knicks.

Another reality in play is the 2014 NBA draft. The Knicks are without a first round draft pick, thanks to their trade for Carmelo Anthony. Interestingly, Anthony now remains their only asset to build for the future. Is Phil Jackson willing to trade the team’s only true star? If Anthony continues to play through the injury, he endangers his future and diminishes his value. That doesn’t benefit the Knicks or Anthony. With a history of shoulder problems, interested teams are watching Carmelo very carefully right now.

Do you think the Carmelo Anthony injury is something he should rest from or continue to play through?

[Image via Hoops Vibe]