Newest New York Knicks' rebuild will begin with decision on Carmelo Anthony
BRIAN MAHONEY | Associated Press
NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony wants to play for a winner. Phil Jackson hasn’t shown he can build one.
So if the New York Knicks president of basketball operations is intent on trading his All-Star forward, Anthony might be willing to go.
The almost annual rebuilding of the Knicks began Thursday, when Anthony and Jackson sat down for their exit meeting. It might be the start of a real exit, if Anthony doesn’t like what he heard from management.
Anthony knows the Knicks might want to trade him and said Wednesday he thought before the deadline in February there was a chance he would be gone. But there was no deal and the Knicks finished 31-51, their fourth straight season out of the playoffs.
Anthony saw the shift to younger players after the All-Star break and knows that might continue into next season. He’ll turn 33 next month, not the stage of his career to embrace a youth movement.
“But if that’s not the direction that they want to go in, then I’m – all it is for me is communication. You just communicate with me,” Anthony said after playing in what might have been his final game after 6 1/2 seasons in New York.
Jackson didn’t this season, dropping occasional hints in the few interviews he did or on Twitter about what appeared to be his dissatisfaction with Anthony’s game. But Anthony was eager to hear directly from Jackson.
“I’m always open,” Anthony said. “I’m a very honest person and I know the business and I know the game and I know how it works. So if it’s something that you want to get across, a message that you want to get across, I’m always open.”
There are many more decisions facing the Knicks this summer, from Derrick Rose’s free agency to what to do with their lottery pick. But the biggest one involves Anthony, who wouldn’t be easy to trade at his age and salary, and then would have to agree to any deal Jackson found.
Jackson will finally discuss some of that Friday, when he is scheduled to speak to the local media for the first time since his preseason press conference in September.
The Knicks have won just one playoff series since Anthony came into the NBA in 2003, a first-round victory in 2013. They haven’t been back to the postseason since, so Anthony knows his route to a ring might be elsewhere.
“I’m sure that they know how I feel as far as wanting to win,” he said.
If it’s not going to happen here, the Knicks could become Kristaps Porzingis’ team next season.
“I haven’t thought about that,” the second-year forward said. “I’ve really focused on getting better as a player and once that time comes, I’m sure I’ll be ready. But we have the team we have right now and whatever happens, I’ve got to stay ready.”
Other things to watch with the Knicks this summer:
ROSE RETURN?: Rose will be rehabbing from surgery to repair torn cartilage when he reaches free agency in July. So a year after acquiring him from Chicago, the Knicks will have to decide whether to offer a contract to a point guard coming off another knee injury.
LOTTERY LUCK?: The Knicks will land in the top 10 of the draft, their highest pick since taking Porzingis at No. 4 in 2015.
SPANISH SURPRISE: Coach Jeff Hornacek pointed to rookie Willy Hernangomez as one of the team’s bright spots. Hernangomez, a former second-round pick of Philadelphia who played with Porzingis in Spain, averaged 8.2 points and 7.0 rebounds.
NOAH NEWS: Joakim Noah had knee surgery, has been recommended to have shoulder surgery that could sideline him five months, and will begin next season sitting out the remainder of a 20-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy. It was a tough start to his Knicks career, and the center still has three years left on the $72 million deal Jackson gave him last summer.