By John Schmeelk
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Carmelo Anthony is going to have to decide at some point this year what he wants his future to be.
Aside from forcing his trade to the Knicks, which is likely going to be considered a mistake, it will be the biggest decision of his career. Anthony still has a legacy problem. A lot of people still think he is nothing more than a shoot-first “me” player who is not capable of winning a championship. The only way he changes all those minds is by winning one. He needs to pick the right team to essentially validate his career. All Knicks fans need to ask themselves this question: If you were in Anthony’s situation, would you choose to place your trust in the Knicks’ organization to get you a championship?
If Knicks fans are being honest with themselves, their answer would be “no.” In two-plus seasons, the Knicks still haven’t been able to successfully build around their superstar. What must Anthony think when he looks around and sees the guys that the Knicks’ front office thought could win him a championship? He sees the man with the worst immune system in the world, Tyson Chandler, a perpetually overweight Ray Felton, a half-nutso J.R. Smith, no knees Amar’s Stoudemire and a maddeningly inconsistent Andrea Bargnani. The Knicks are not even close to a title from a personnel perspective and Anthony knows it.
The talent is not going to get better anytime soon, either. The team is capped out this summer, and should be able to add a second max player in 2015, but only if the team jettisons more or less every other useful player on the roster. Anthony would be staying based on the hope that a great player that complements him well will come to the Knicks more than a year from now. Sorry, Knicks fans, but Kevin Love does not complement him well. He then has to trust the Knicks’ front office to put the right players next to them with only one draft pick in the next three seasons, and few other resources to improve the team.
Based on the Knicks’ track record, and even more importantly, Steve Mills’ lack of experience as general manager, there’s no reason for Anthony to have any confidence that the Knicks can build a championship roster. The best way for a top player to win a championship is to surround himself not only with the best players, but also the best people in the front office and the coaching ranks. It’s the chief reason that LeBron James went to Miami. He believed that Pat Riley could lead the Heat to a championship. Steve Mills? I don’t think so. James Dolan? Exactly. Would you hitch your wagon to Dolan? To see an Eagles concert, perhaps, but not to win an NBA title.
Anthony doesn’t even know who his coach is going to be. Mike Woodson is not long for this job, with his best players slowly turning on him as he makes one blunder after another. Unless the Knicks can somehow acquire a blue-chip head coach, Anthony would be returning to a team with a captain that he doesn’t believe can bring the ship to port. Dolan would probably even let Anthony pick the Knicks’ next head coach, but will there even be someone on the market good enough to match up with the likes of Frank Vogel? Lionel Hollins?
Wherever Anthony lands in 2014, he likely won’t be able to get to a team with elite players, an excellent head coach, a good GM with a track record and a great owner, but he will be able to get at least two out of four. The Knicks offer none of those things. ZERO. All they can offer is the hope that another superstar joins the team in 2015. If you were Anthony, would that be a convincing argument to choose the Knicks over another NBA team? Not if he really wants to win an NBA title above all else.
Others argue things like being in a big market, his wife or some sense of loyalty to finishing business in New York would make him stay. I don’t buy it. Anthony is a desperate NBA player. His prime seasons are ticking away with nothing to show for them. He can’t waste another season in New York praying for another star to arrive that actually complements him. The best argument for him staying in New York is that the owner can offer the largest and longest contract. Money still talks, and it was money more than anything else that motivated Anthony to force a trade to New York rather than go to free agency under an unknown future CBA. It will be interesting to see if Anthony learned from his past mistake at all.
There is one month to the trade deadline, and Anthony is going to have to start to figure out what his future is going to be. If he isn’t going to re-sign with the Knicks, he can tell the team so they can trade him. Or he can simply play out his deal.
If they haven’t already, the Knicks need to find out what Anthony is thinking so they can act accordingly. Any way you cut it, the Knicks do not provide a bright future for Anthony. He knows it, and if the Knicks are honest with themselves, they know it too. Just like he did three years ago, he holds the Knicks’ fate in his hands.
You can follow me on Twitter @Schmeelk for everything Knicks, Giants, Yankees and the world of sports.