Because Carmelo Anthony is refusing to waive his no-trade clause, even if it would give him a fast track ticket to the NBA Finals and redemption, the Knicks are stuck in purgatory. Anthony’s contract is eating up 30% of the cap space. His team value, however, is far less than that. Of the top 25 scorers in the league, Carmelo ranks 19th in field goal percentage and 19th in 3-point percentage. He ranks 28th in rebounds. He can no longer carry a team on the strength of his offense because his offense is pretty average, the worst since his rookie year. Melo is 31 years old, soon to be 32, on the down side of his career, but he is being paid and expected to perform like a top-5 player, which he cannot do anymore.
Kristaps Porzingis has quietly done the unthinkable. He has made the rank and file Carmelo apologists imagine a Knicks world with him gone. Porzingis shows you all of the possibilities. In his rookie year, he has demonstrated more of a versatile game than Carmelo has exhibited in 13 seasons.
If Carmelo allowed a trade, then the Knicks would receive the Celtics pick which happens to be the Nets pick, which may in fact be the number one pick and Ben Simmons. Imagine that front court: Ben Simmons and Kristaps Porzingis.
Of course, the Knicks have a glaring need at point guard. Jose Calderon is the worst starting point guard not playing in Brooklyn. The Knicks can’t realistically compete getting torched, night in and night out, and with a below average defender that lacks the footspeed to get to the rim. If Carmelo is an older player, Calderon, at 34, is damned ancient.
The entire Knicks squad lacks explosive talent that is 23 or 24 years old. It is why the Jackson rebuild is necessary. The Thunder rebuilt and got young and talented. The Warriors rebuilt and got young and talented. The Raptors rebuilt through the draft. DeMar DeRozan in 2009. Jonas Valanciunas in 2011. Terrence Ross in 2012. The Raptors traded for and then re-signed free agent Kyle Lowry, adding him to the mix. They refused to overpay him. That’s what rebuilding looks like. The Raptors are the second best team in the East after 7 years of moves.
At this point, it’s a very valid question to ask, what does Carmelo want? He continually references how settled his son is in NYC schools and how he and his wife love the city. Rarely does he talk about being a champion. It must have occurred to him that at his age he doesn’t have that many chances left. Both he and Chris Paul are best players of their generation never to advance to the Finals. But Paul, at least, has his team in the top 4 of the conference, trying to get there, and more importantly being unselfish along the way. Carmelo can’t say the same. The only unselfish thing he is doing is staying in New York, choking them with a contract he can no longer live up to because the knees have checked out.
New York has a dynamic piece to fit their future in Kristaps Porzingis. The rebuild is just one player away. Carmelo Anthony being that one player who needs to go away. For good.
photo via llananba