After another dismal season, Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks face a pivotal offseason. With a head coaching vacancy and a flexible cap situation, New York needs to please Anthony this summer, or the two sides may decide to part ways. For obvious reasons, the current state of the Knicks is a frustrating realization for the aging Anthony.
Believing that New York would soon become one of the elite teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, Anthony re-signed with the Knicks last summer. New York elected to fire their head coach midseason and a 32-win campaign ensued. After this past season, Anthony’s hopes of winning in New York are bleak, despite any hope that he possessed heading into the year. Knowing that, Anthony met with both team president Phil Jackson and general manager Steve Mills to discuss the future of the Knicks on Thursday. In talking with Jackson and Mills, Anthony’s concerns were made clear.
“I think that’s the main question. How can we take advantage of this window? How can we take advantage of this situation that we have in front of us?,” Anthony told ESPN.
To take advantage of Anthony’s closing window, New York will have to allocate their available cap space this summer in a creative way. In order to keep Anthony, moves will have to be made to position themselves for a run at the playoffs and demonstrate to him that the Knicks are headed in the right direction. Still, impatiently making moves to satisfy Anthony’s limited timetable seems like a hopeless and and unwise effort.
Continuing to build the Knicks through free agency in an attempt to please Anthony comes along with one major risk. These moves have potentially negative implications for Kristaps Porzingis, as free agents could possibly be stunting Porzingis’ growth and chance to improve in the near future. This potential was easily observable over the past season, and the rookie finished the season with 18.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per 36 minutes on 24.6 usage percentage per Basketball-Reference. Anthony, on the other hand, tallied a 29.7 usage percentage and was still clearly the focal point of the offense.
In building around Anthony, the Knicks have already compromised their ability to improve through the draft, trading most of their picks in the near future. However, this plan has not translated into wins, which seems to have only frustrated Anthony.
In the offseason, Anthony’s team not only has personnel decisions to make, but the process of finding a new head coach also looms. According to Frank Isola of The New York Daily News, a source close to Anthony believes that New York’s star wants Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau is a strong coach who is currently unemployed, and his previous success as a head coach with the Chicago Bulls would make him a logical choice given Anthony’s age and shrinking timetable.
However, Jackson does not seem to be on the same page with Anthony. As Isola describes, a strong-willed coach like Thibodeau may not be as intriguing for Jackson.
“Jackson wants Kurt Rambis to return as head coach. He’s made that pretty clear. Rambis shares his vision, runs the triangle and allows Jackson to be involved in coaching the team from a distance.”
With Jackson and Anthony possibly disagreeing on where the Knicks should go in terms of their coach, tension could result in New York. At this point, it is quite clear that if Jackson’s coaching hire and free agent signings don’t please Anthony this summer, a trade away from the Knicks could be the best option for both sides.
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