According to ESPN, the New York Knicks have shutdown Carmelo Anthony for the season. For the Knicks, the news has some upside. First off, without ‘Melo, New York will likely end up with a better spot in the draft. Second, giving Anthony rest should extend his career. Given that the Knicks are tied to Carmelo until Buck Rodgers returns to Earth, the less tread on his tires, the more bang New York can get for it’s buck.
So, then how come this doesn’t sit right with my stomach?
Well the reason the Knicks are shutting Carmelo down is because Carmelo Anthony’s knee has shut down Carmelo Anthony. Had New York done this a month ago, I wouldn’t be so worried. Putting a merely banged up Carmelo Anthony on ice is a good idea. Calling it a season for ‘Melo because he needs knee surgery is, well, a necessity. Carmelo Anthony is getting an extended rest much like your 40 year old cousin is finally going to put his dream of being a rapper on hold so he can get a real career.
In my travels there are people in my “NBA circle” that I can talk hoops with on a high level. Then there are the people that aren’t necessarily writers or bloggers, “regular folk” if you will, that will seek me out for my Knicks knowledge. Since about November, whenever I have a conversation with people of the latter group it goes something like this: ”
Regular folk: “Tough season for the Knicks, right?”
Me: “Yeah, it’s been brutal to watch.”
Regular folk: “Well at least you know they’ll be a lot better next year, right?”
Me: “No. Unfortunately that’s not the case. They’d have to be unbelievably lucky to be good in the next few years.”
How the conversation proceeds usually depends on societal etiquette. People that don’t like the response to “how’s your day” to be “really crappy” will usually change the subject. Others will proceed with a Q&A on why I’m so down on the team. My reasoning is simple: Phil Jackson, a person who has never run an NBA team as a GM before, has to pick the right person in this draft, sign the right big name free agent, fill out the bench with proper role players, and make sure to have the right coach on the sidelines to lead the team.
We won’t know the answer to those first three events until the end of the summer. However, Anthony’s injury throws a wrench into the whole plan.
Carmelo Anthony is supposedly getting a procedure that “includes a left knee patella tendon debridement and repair,” and is likely to need “four to six months” of rest. Calling a situation where a player can’t play basketball for half a year “shutting him down for the season” hearkens to recent Knick regimes that downplayed injuries. If Vegas took odds based on how the Knicks communicated injuries, one could make a fortune taking the under.
Even in Phil Jackson’s best case scenario, if Anthony’s health doesn’t hold up, then the Knicks ceiling seems to be the 2012 team. Carmelo Anthony would be Amar’e Stoudemire, Marc Gasol would be Tyson Chandler, and Jahlil Okafor would be Carmelo Anthony.
So what’s it like to be an optimistic Knicks fan? You have to hope the Knicks get a good pick in the draft. Then you have to hope they pick the right player. You have to believe they’ll do something with their cap space this summer to get a second star. You’ll have to think New York will go out and get good role players to fill the rest of their roster. You’ll need to believe that either Derek Fisher is a pretty good coach when given the right players, or that the Knicks will figure out he’s not and get someone who is. And now you’ll need to trust that Carmelo Anthony will be healthy so in 4 years from now he’s not working out a buy-out on one of the league’s worst teams to be a bit player on a team with playoff chances.