Carmelo’s Independence Day Still Way Off

“Doing it in New York is better than doing it any place in the world. One in New York is better than multiple somewhere else. That was the reason I wanted to come to New York. I don’t want to run. I could have run somewhere when I was a free agent. I came back for a reason.” Carmelo Anthony.

In 1997, Robert Horry threw a towel in Danny Ainge’s face. Ainge was the Phoenix Suns coach and Horry, a disgruntled player fed up with Ainge, seized the moment. A national tv camera was focused on the Suns huddle and that’s when Horry made his move. It worked, his insurgency and act of rebellion. It got him to the Lakers and 3-titles and away from Danny Ainge.

Carmelo Anthony hasn’t been that dramatic because in his heart he doesn’t want to get out of New York bad enough to stage a mutiny, to make the New York Knicks have to trade him. Wanting out is different than desperate to get out. The fact that Carmelo has conceded something in this long and simmering slow moving divorce is evidence than even the most devoted New Yorkers can be worn down. Currently, and this may change, Carmelo is offering up two teams he is willing to go to. It only means that he is ready to walk in the footprints of those he trusts, Chris Paul and LeBron James. But the Knicks are not interested one bit in Carmelo’s best interest or future happiness.  Or, independence. Only their own. That’s where it gets dicey in this soap opera.

A buyout is a non-sequitor. Don’t even go there. Giving Melo cash and letting him walk to a title is not the James Dolan way of doing things. Besides, it is bad business. Carmelo gets everything, the Knicks get nothing.  That is not how NBA Econ 101 is done. Better talents than Carmelo have been traded and the teams that did the trading had something in return to make it all seem worthwhile. Shaq comes to mind. The Lakers got Lamar Odom from the Miami Heat after pushing Shaq out the door. Not only was Odom talented, he was a key ingredient in the amassing of two titles 5 years after the trade was final. The Knicks want something similar where losing Melo means winning down the road. And in an odd way, Derrick Rose is the key. His fate equals liberation for Carmelo Anthony.

Derrick Rose no longer has an in-house cheerleader now that Phil Jackson has been run out of town. Steve Mills isn’t a Rose fan and wants to jump start the rebuild. Rose is valuable to the Knicks in a sign and trade. If, Rose has quality meetings with the Bucks, and the Knicks engage Milwaukee in a sign and trade, then the Knicks are getting back assets, either draft picks or young players, or both. Bringing young players to New York and giving them a lot of minutes while Carmelo is trying to lead his team to the playoffs is a combustible product. Young and talented can’t help Carmelo’s ultimate goal: the NBA Finals. Carmelo can’t help the uninitiated and vulnerable manage the early part of their career.

A year ago, near the trading deadline, Melo thwarted Danny Ainge. 19 years had passed since Robert Horry publicly humiliated Ainge the coach. Pages had been turned and Ainge was the Boston Svengali in charge of the post championship Celtics rebuild. He inquired about Carmelo’s availability at the trading deadline. The Celtics needed a superstar and Ainge swung for the fences and tried to get scorer Carmelo.

Carmelo wasn’t interested.

It’s a logical conclusion to reach that if he wasn’t going to spend the next few years in Boston with a nice group of players but no one extraordinary, and no one that had any shot at beating the Cavs and getting to the Finals, he’s definitely not going to stick it out in New York with the young and clueless trained by Jeff Hornacek.

Now that his buyout seems to be on the very, very slow track, dying on the vine so to speak,  Carmelo has to leave New York via trade, and this is the messy part: on his terms. The only problem with Carmelo trying to reorganize his employment situation is he doesn’t have enough leverage in the league to be able to dictate his terms. He has never proven he can carry a team. Or put it another way, who wants Carmelo Anthony besides Houston and Cleveland? How many teams are begging for him?

It’s hard to see how the Knicks get a significant young talent by dealing Carmelo when it’s apparent they are happy sellers looking for a replacement. It is Derrick Rose that has the value and who will bring in draft picks and young talent for a rebuild. Derrick Rose allows the Knicks to reap benefits. Carmelo brings the Knicks Ryan Anderson or Kevin Love. Not exactly inspiring.

And so the roller coaster has hit a dead spot on the 4th of July 2017. Celebrating independence changes nothing about the Carmelo Anthony problem. A veteran surrounded by kids is what the Knicks will face. Melo has to go and soon.

But on the 4th of July we don’t do Knicks problems. Ribs and burgers, maybe a game of dominoes, baseball, fireworks are the thing. Its a vacation from reality: Carmelo is still here. Still a Knick.




photo via llananba