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 t.v. camera was focused on the Suns huddle and that’s when Horry made his move. It worked. It got him to the Lakers and 3-titles and away from Ainge.
Carmelo Anthony wasn’t that dramatic, nor that public. But he did thwart Danny Ainge, almost two decades later. Ainge inquired about Carmelo’s availability at the trading deadline. The Celtics need a superstar and Ainge swung for the fences and tried to get Carmelo. But if Carmelo wasn’t going to waive his no-trade clause to play with his friend LeBron James on a fast track to a title, 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. Add to that, the facts. Carmelo is not moving his family to Boston. He’d rather stick it out with a losing team and a coach caught up in a twitter embarrassment, absorb the refracted glow of Kristaps Porzingis, not make the playoffs (again), and wish upon a star that the Knicks 43 year drought will end sometime in his lifetime.
Ainge got a reality check. He’s kind of full of himself these days because of how he swindled the Nets, sending them into purgatory. Ainge was fully aware that Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were old players in 2013. The magic of the Big 3 was playing for Doc Rivers in Boston. It had been a perfect storm that was now over. Erase Rivers from the equation, shuttle the Big 2 to Brooklyn, and you start over. So, yes, Ainge gets an A+ for accepting the end was the end. The Nets are a disaster simply because of Danny Ainge’s acumen and Mikhail Prokhorov’s lack of impulse control. Garnett and Pierce cost the Nets a lot of draft picks, particularly this year’s first rounder which may mean the first pick.
(Phil Jackson would love to replace Carmelo Anthony with Ben Simmons. But then Phil Jackson gave Carmelo the no-trade clause. So who is the injured party?)
Give Ainge credit for putting together a team that has strong defensive principles and plays good team basketball. They move the ball from side to side, they find open shooters, they rebound and contest shots. Every night the Celtics have one constant: they play hard. Unfortunately for them, they don’t have a top-15 talent, they are missing a superstar, and their playoff situation is fragile. Lose a few games and they are on the outside looking in. It remains to be seen if a superstar playing somewhere else (Kevin Durant) is excited by the Jared Sullingers and Kelly Olynyks of the world.
If only the Knicks had those problems. If only they had a scorer like Isaiah Thomas and a defender like Avery Bradley and a coach like Brad Stevens. But they are stuck with a coach who has to deny the porn on his Twitter timeline was there because he put it there and to make matters worse and more laughingly ridiculous, they have to preach the company line of he was hacked, he was hacked.
What else is there to say besides the obvious?
The Knicks have won 1 game in February. It was against the Timberwolves. That broke a streak of 7 straight losses, kicked off by a Warriors 21 point Garden disaster. Loss number 7 was humiliating, a beating by the hopeless Nets that Danny Ainge screwed over. The Knicks have started another streak, two and counting.
Which makes you wonder why Carmelo doesn’t want to escape this sinking ship? It’s hard to see how they get much better. Their most pressing need is a point guard but they don’t have the assets to trade for Jeff Teague because they gave this year’s first round draft pick away to Toronto for Andrea Bargnani who is no longer in the NBA. This summer may be a repeat of last summer, journeyman players who are looking for redemption.
The worst move Phil Jackson made was giving Carmelo the no-trade clause. The Knicks are stuck with him and his contract as he exerts his power. They are paralyzed. Anyone trying to get him to waive the clause simply doesn’t understand Carmelo. He’s a New Yorker for life.
“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.”
photo via llananba