The Knicks Next Steps Following Melo's Surgery

by Jonah Ballow

As basketball business resumed across the NBA following the All-Star break on Wednesday afternoon, the Knicks held a press conference at MSG Training Center prior to the first practice session.  The team officially announced that Carmelo Anthony will have season-ending left knee surgery.  Anthony’s procedure includes a left knee patella tendon debridement and repair.

Over the past couple of months we witnessed Anthony struggle with the decision to undergo surgery and begin the arduous process back to the floor.  Despite ranking in the top 5 in scoring (24.2 points per game) and averaging 6.6 boards, Anthony simply could not overcome the knee soreness that plagued him throughout this season.  A chat with president Phil Jackson across the pond led to Wednesday’s final resolution.

“We felt comfortable with him playing in the All-Star game,” Jackson stated. “I had a meeting with him in London and we discussed this process of having the surgery sooner than later because we know the process can’t take some time for rehab and getting back on the court and we want him to make a full recovery and be ready for this next coming season in the process of not only rehabbing but reconditioning.”

The team has not revealed a specific date for Anthony’s return but Jackson relayed some of the early indications from the medical staff once the procedure is complete.

 “What we are finding out from the medical was on-court, it could be 4-6 months.  We can’t put it at a timetable until after the surgery and that’s what they’re saying but they say it could be anywhere from 4-6 months for Carmelo to be back on the floor,” Jackson said.

At 10-43, New York’s front office is open to potential deals at the trade deadline and at the same time evaluating talent on the current roster.  The goal is twofold – the Knicks want to maintain and/or shed cap space while ensuring they add players that fit the system and team culture Jackson and Derek Fisher are building at MSG.  With Amar’e Stoudemire out of a New York uniform and off to Dallas, the Knicks are carefully monitoring the market to surround Anthony with the necessary pieces to be successful in years to come.

“We are going to make assessments on players to play with him and we anticipate as a scorer that’s been prolific in his career, he’ll continue to be so, which is a big part of the game,” Jackson reiterated.

The Knicks front office is also gearing up for a big month to place the top college prospects under a microscope during conference tournaments and the big dance in March.  Jackson mentioned his desire to pay close attention and even attend conference games to see how the elite players interact with teammates and coaches in hostile environments against squads they’ve faced multiple times throughout the college season.  New York owns its first round pick and at the moment would be in play for a top lottery pick that will be unveiled on May 20.

The Knicks returned to practice on Wednesday and will have one more day to adjust back to the NBA schedule before game action later this week.  Jackson has enjoyed the grit and determination from some of the new faces on the squad.  Langston Galloway, Lou Amundson, and Lance Thomas are a trio of players that earned contracts for the remainder of the season and will certainly be motivated to prove their worth over the next two months and change.

“I think they’re competitive,” Jackson expressed.  They may not be able to finish games and win them but they’re competitive.  I think people enjoyed seeing how well this team competed since the London trip.  They came out, they worked hard, they played together.  We don’t have the depth and at times that hurts us in the course of a game but we’ve had a couple of victories that were interesting to watch and entertaining.”

New York’s president added, “We’re going to have to be better at executing.  We don’t have the resource to drop the ball off to Carmelo’s lap and say know we can have someone score these 20 points for us.   We’re going to have to do a lot more activity as a team.”

The Knicks hit the floor on Friday night against the Heat at the Garden and will host the surging Cavaliers and J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert on Sunday afternoon.


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