Although most Knicks fans were in support of the move, many now believe Phil Jackson’s re-signing of Carmelo Anthony will destroy things.
By David Hong
Ever since taking over as the New York Knicks president back in 2014, legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson hasn’t enjoyed much success with the team. A lot of his moves have backfired so far, and last season the Knicks won the fewest games in franchise history with an abysmal 17.
But his biggest mistake as Knicks GM may be his biggest move of all: re-signing star forward Carmelo Anthony.
People may be asking: “Why Melo, when he’s the only true superstar in your team?” Believe me, I have tried to support Melo through his time here. At this point, however, I simply cannot ignore the negatives.
Anthony, no doubt, is one of the best pure scorers you will see in the NBA. He can score the ball from anywhere on the floor while rolling as one of the most dominant one-on-one scorers you will ever find. Heck, Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce – who was an NBA champion back during his prolonged years with the Boston Celtics – mentioned that he thought Melo is the most unstoppable offensive player there is.
Scoring is not his problem. It’s the other attributes in his game and also the level of success his teams have had in the past.
Despite being one of the top scorers in the NBA for years, Melo’s teams have never enjoyed consistent winning success whether it was back in his years with the Denver Nuggets or now with the Knicks. In his career, Melo has never won an NBA championship and has reached past the first round of the playoffs only twice (once with the Knicks in 2012-2013). The deepest he went in the playoffs was in the conference finals back in the 2008-2009 season with the Nuggets.
No matter how talented a guy is, a superstar’s legacy becomes defined through team success – namely, the NBA championship count. Melo has not won a championship yet and has not been too successful in the playoffs.
There may be some reasons to it. Other than his scoring, Melo doesn’t do much else on the court. He will occasionally rebound at times, but he doesn’t pass often mainly cause he has a scorers mindset and he doesn’t play consistent defense nor is the effort always there.
Another issue plaguing his superstar status comes down to his style of play. His scoring style simply doesn’t bode well in team ball. Melo likes to dominate with the ball in his hands and make plays on his own, which automatically brings out the dreaded isolation game. He likes to settle for one on one play with the ball, thus leaving the rest of his teammates standing. It may be good for individual play, but doesn’t lead to top notch efficiency.
Basketball is definitely better played when the ball is moving on all cylinders, which creates better shot opportunities all around (see the San Antonio Spurs). Iso play stops ball movement and the offense becomes stagnant, and we’ve seen that many times with the Knicks when Melo has the ball on his own and the offense stops.
As a result, Melo is not known to make others around him better. In fac,t he might haveve made some of his teammates worse with selfish play. Look no further than these examples forthcoming.
Amar’e Stoudemire was the toast of the town when he signed with the Knicks back in 2010. He played like an MVP candidate in the first half of the 2010-2011 season and led a once dormant Knicks team back to respectability. The ball was flowing like wine under then Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system.
Then came the Melo trade in February of 2011. Stoudemire’s career was never the same after that. Sure, he suffered a lot of various injuries that sapped his once explosiveness, but Melo’s presence and the fact that he also needed the ball down low, created friction down low and once Melo took over as the No. 1 offensive option for the Knicks. Suddenly Stoudemire was just another player on the low block.
Landry Fields, who was also one of the better role players for the Knicks before the Melo trade, disappeared after Melo came to town.
Then in 2012, Jeremy Lin became a Knicks sensation, starring the term we quickly came to know as Linsanity. Not only did Lin score 20+ points in his first several games during the Linsanity era, he did it without Melo, who was injured at that time. Coincidentally, the Knicks won 8-of-9 games during that stretch. The ball was moving well again with everyone on the offensive floor feeling involved.
When Melo came back, Lin was not the same, and the offense went back to stagnant mode.
Melo, also has had a questionable attitude and at times was all about himself more than the team. And based on his selfish, all about me style in regards to offense at times, it leaves much to be desired.
During the 2014 offseason, Phil Jackson re-signed Melo to a long term deal, deciding to build the Knicks around Anthony. So far it’s been a disaster. So far, Melo has failed to adapt to Phil’s famed triangle offense, unlike other supreme scorers who had previously figured it out (Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant).
Melo also suffered a knee injury and missed the entire second half of last season thanks to surgery. So far this season, he still hasn’t looked 100% and looks like the knee has been bothering him a bit by getting off to a slow start so far. He’s averaging 21.8 points per game, but only shooting 37% from the field. There is also concern of whether Melo’s knee issue could be long term, and as Anthony is entering his 30s, he’s not getting any younger.
Melo’s long term contract makes it virtually impossible for the Knicks to sign other superstar free agents. Had the Knicks let go of Melo two summers ago, the Knicks would’ve enjoyed much more cap flexibility. It would’ve allowed Derek Fisher to center the organization around stud phenom Kristaps Porzingis while they looked for the eventual Robin to his Batman.
Melo’s recent knee injury could also make other teams wary of acquiring Anthony in a trade, should the Knicks try to move him.
It looks like the Knicks could be stuck with a past-the-prime Anthony for a long time. It’s obviously still an open argument, but as of right now this could already be Jackson’s biggest regret as Knicks president.
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