Carmelo Anthony is staring at a third-straight season of playoff basketball that he and the Knicks aren’t a part of.
The only guarantees you get when you play for the Knicks are great pay and an extended vacation from mid-April until October.
This is shaping up to be a third straight season without a playoff date at Madison Square Garden, the 11th such quiet spring since 2001. Being remarkably consistent at futility isnâ€™t a good thing but make no bones about it, the Knicks seem to have mastered the art of losing.
Mighty Phil Jackson struck out at Thursdayâ€™s NBA trading deadline because he has few assets and even fewer players that other teams want. There is always the possibility in the next 48 hours of a player being released who will become a free agent, but those players tend to join contenders or playoff-bound teams.
The four teams directly ahead of the Knicks â€” Orlando, Washington, Detroit and Charlotte â€” all made moves to enhance their respective playoff pushes over the last three days.
The Knicks? Nothing.
They didnâ€™t have anything to make a realistic play for Jeff Teague, much less Ty Lawson. The talent Jackson acquired isnâ€™t blowing anyone away or winning enough games.
With his team at 23-32 and having lost 10 of 11 games, Jackson failed to improve the roster for the stretch run. After three seasons, two offseasons and two trade deadlines, Jacksonâ€™s record over the last 137 games is an unremarkable 40-97. If that isnâ€™t a commentary on the triangle offense, nothing is.
It takes great players and good coaching to win in the NBA. Jackson should know that. Instead, he bought an average roster and handed it over to a novice coach, who was in so far over his head that Jackson admitted failure on Super Bowl Sunday and fired Derek Fisher without giving him two full seasons.
Jackson could improve the team by hiring Tom Thibodeau and he wouldnâ€™t even be required to forfeit a draft pick or trade a single player. Unfortunately, thatâ€™s not happening. Phil would rather return the cash advance on his last book deal than hire a non-crony, non-triangle schooled coach.
Hey, donâ€™t ever say we didnâ€™t try to help.
If Thibodeau isnâ€™t coming and if landing Kevin Durant is unrealistic, the Knicksâ€™ best hope for a brighter tomorrow is to rebuild around Kristaps Porzingis by convincing Carmelo Anthony to waive his no-trade clause if the right deal comes along this summer.
You kinda wonder if Jackson regrets publicly painting Anthony into a corner two summers ago by first saying Melo should take a discount and letting his star player know he wouldnâ€™t be broken up in the least if Anthony signed elsewhere. Anthonyâ€™s camp was not happy about being called out like that.
Yet, when the moment of truth arrived, Jackson flew out to Los Angeles and offered Anthony a max deal. Meloâ€™s response was to give a $ 6 million discount on two conditions: a no-trade clause and a trade kicker. Carmelo played that one beautifully.
Phil Jackson fails to upgrade the Knicks at the 2016 trade deadline, but, depending on how the playoffs go, he may have some options open this summer.
And now Anthony controls his future, which quite frankly is not very promising in New York. The best thing to happen to the Knicks on Thursday was the Celtics keeping all their assets, Kevin Love remaining in Cleveland and Blake Griffin staying stuck in L.A. That gives the Knicks several solid options this summer. A best-case scenario is for those three teams â€” Celtics, Cavs and Clippers â€” to all fall in the first or second round, which would lead to major changes. Cleveland should reach the NBA Finals but if it suffers another loss in June and should Love struggle, thatâ€™s also good for the Knicks.
Carmeloâ€™s three best friends in the NBA are LeBron James, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade and itâ€™s conceivable that he would agree to a trade to join up with any of them. The Clippers make sense: Melo owns a home in Los Angeles and if the Knicks could swap Carmelo for Griffin that would be a stroke of genius.
Going to the Cavs to play with LeBron gives Carmelo the best shot at reaching the NBA Finals. But unlike LeBron, Melo is not from Akron. He loves New York and pushing him to Cleveland will be a tough sell. The weather and no state taxes in Miami are far more appealing, but the odds of Jackson and Pat Riley hashing out a blockbuster trade are slim at best.
Last weekend, Carmelo said he wasnâ€™t ready â€œyetâ€ to consider a move to a contender. That could change. In fact, heâ€™ll have plenty of time to ponder his future once the Knicksâ€™ season ends and another long vacation begins in mid-April.
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