New York stands at 23-32 at the All-Star break, 12th in the Eastern Conference. Unless the Knicks’ fortunes change rather dramatically over the final 27 games of the regular season, Anthony will miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
“It’s tough,” Anthony told a horde of reporters in the basement of the Sheraton in downtown Toronto. “That doesn’t sit well with me.”
All-Star weekends allow the best players in the league to see what it’s like to compete on a super-team. Anthony badly wants to be on a team with a fellow bona fide superstar, he “dreams” of it, and still trusts in Phil Jackson’s vision of the Knicks.
“You realize you just can’t do it by yourself,” Anthony said.
Melo repeatedly said on Friday that he’s going to reflect on and evaluate his options after the season. Read into that however you’d like. That could include waiving his no-trade clause if the situation was right. He didn’t completely rule that out earlier this week following Derek Fisher’s dismissal as head coach.
That could also include luring and recruiting big time free agents to the Knicks, regardless of who the head coach is.
“I think now it’s just more about guys wanting to come, wanting to play for a long time,” Anthony said. “I don’t think right now that the coaching situation is a part of that. Maybe it is for some people. I think in this day and age, it’s more about who the guys you’re going to be playing with are.”
“That’s 2017,” Anthony said. “He’s not even thinking about it.”
In the basement ballroom in that Sheraton, Anthony was asked about Tom Thibodeau and what bringing him aboard would potentially mean for the Knicks.
“Don’t start that,” Anthony said with a smile.
Coaches could potentially be a factor in a player joining a team, but it’s usually neither a dealmaker nor a dealbreaker. LeBron James signed with the Cavs two summers ago even though David Blatt was just hired as the coach.
It’s a player-driven business, and Anthony knows that as well as any star in the league after he orchestrated his 2011 trade from Denver to New York. He was asked about the relationship between players and front offices in dictating or determining which players go where.
“It’s always a fine line,” Anthony said. “I always believe that when it comes down to players, who you’re going to be out there with.”
Essentially the players, i.e. Melo, are in control. Anthony likes this Knicks franchise, but how much patience will he have as Phil Jackson, general manager Steve Mills and the rest of the organization try to build a title contender, or even a playoff team, around him?
Anthony is keeping options open and possibly being transparent with everything, but he wants to win now, on his own timeline. It’s no secret that superstars talk to one another at All-Star weekend, and Anthony said the Fisher firing didn’t change things much because the team was going through a losing period regardless.
“Everybody talks and everybody communicates,” he said.
Anthony said that players try to recruit him to join other teams all the time, but he just leaves his headphones on and ignores them.
At what point do the Knicks’ struggles become too difficult to ignore any longer?
It doesn’t seem like Anthony will be traded prior to Thursday’s trade deadline, but weirder things have happened. Heck, it seemed like half the league’s point guards were dealt less than an hour before last February’s deadline.
More likely, the Knicks will miss the playoffs yet again and Anthony will regroup after the season and assess his future with the franchise. What he decides after that? Like Melo said, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens with his long-term future.
Shlomo Sprung is a national columnist for SheridanHoops who focuses on analytics, profiles and features. He is also the web editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. A 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, he has previously worked for the New York Knicks, The Sporting News, Business Insider and other publications. Follow him on Twitter.