In the last decade, the New York Knicks have become a franchise that has been bogged down by a poor coaching staff and an inconsistent roster. While the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony uplifted this mediocre franchise to reach a few playoff berths, they could never remain successful once they made the post season. Although Anthony’s 62-point explosion in the Knicks most recent outing against the Charlotte Bobcats was impressive, it made the Knicks remaining players look meek and incompetent in comparison. Although Anthony will always be the star of the show if he remains in New York, he’ll sacrifice a grand opportunity to earn his first championship ring.
As a dynamic small forward, Anthony is both a prolific scorer (27 PPG) and an avid rebounder (9.1 RPG) who can put up miraculous shots no matter where he positions himself on the court. Although Anthony’s shooting from the field could be better (44.7 FG%), his perimeter shooting has continued to be his greatest attribute since he came to New York in 2011 (improved from 33.5% from the perimeter in 2011-2012 season to 42% this season).
With this type of versatile talent, Anthony will easily be an intriguing free agent option for many teams that lack a proficient offense. However, the down side to taking on Carmelo Anthony is that he’ll expect a hefty contract while demanding a cohesive group of savvy young shooters who can back him up. While it may be an expensive and somewhat risky proposition to take on Anthony for the long haul, his dynamic skill set and on the court instincts would make him an ideal candidate for a team that lacks leadership.
Of course, assuming Anthony departs the Big Apple in the near future, he’ll have to find a premiere competitive franchise that is looking to bolster its roster with young talent. Although the Lakers have been decimated by injuries, they have a developing roster that has several competent shooters who continue to improve the more playing time they get. Although many big name players have avoided going to Los Angeles because of Kobe Bryant’s relentless competitive nature, Anthony’s personality could actually go well with Kobe’s strict expectations. Not only are they both elite competitors who play with tremendous vigor, they are both respected athletes that want to win no matter what it takes. The emergence of Anthony as a Laker could not only breathe new life into this debilitated franchise, it could give Kobe the opportunity he needs to make a run at getting that elusive sixth ring. While the Lakers would most likely have to cut ties with beloved center Pau Gasol amongst other athletes to make this deal come to fruition, it would at least give Los Angeles another potent shooter who could carry the Lakers to new heights once Bryant retires.
The dilemma with Anthony is whether he is willing to go far to find the right team to take him farther in the post season than he’s ever been before. Although Anthony will expect a big payday no matter where he ends up, he might have to take less to keep a team intact that is on the verge of success. Obviously, staying in the New York is the safe option given that the Knicks erratic success has been made possible because of Anthony’s shooting abilities. At the same time, the Knicks are looking to become a more complete franchise for the first time in years, and may want to consider trading Anthony to get some experienced players who can guide them to progressive success. By giving Anthony a max contract, the Knicks would be forced to make difficult trades to build around their superstar. Keeping Anthony on the roster could give the Knicks more time to build around Anthony but it could also hurt their franchise for the long haul if general management can’t find the right athletes to play consistently around him.
While Anthony brought a great sense of hope when he came to New York in 2011, it’s hard not to contemplate Anthony’s next move as being away from New York when all is said and done. Despite the fact that Anthony would be paid handsomely by the Knicks if he chooses to stay, the window for competing for a national championship gets smaller as Anthony plays year in and year out. Either way, Anthony will have to make a sacrifice to get what he wants, which makes his future in the NBA all the more unpredictable.