The recent developments involving New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony’s future proves he has learned nothing from his past mistakes.
Carmelo Anthony‘s history of questionable decisions regarding his basketball future dates back to when he first orchestrated his trade to the New York Knicks. It’s easy to forget that it’s been over six years since Anthony rocked The Big Apple.
The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement was set to expire in the summer of 2011, and there were already strong rumors of a lockout (which eventually happened) so pending free agents were understandably worried about negotiating their next payday. One of those free agents was Anthony, and he was in a unique situation. Anthony began the season with the Denver Nuggets, but the entire league knew he wanted out.
The 33-year-old’s preference was a move to New York. He was born in Brooklyn and grew up idolizing Knicks legend Bernard King. Anthony’s camp pushed the Knicks to trade for the polarizing superstar when they knew they could’ve signed him over the summer.
Team president Donnie Walsh felt the prudent move was to wait, but owner James Dolan wasn’t willing to wait four months to pair a superstar with Amar’e Stoudemire. He stepped in and made the trade; gutting New York’s roster in the process. Chauncey Billups came over from Denver as well but was inexplicably amnestied with just one season remaining on his contract after expressing a desire to return.
Anthony knew his future team would’ve been better off had he waited to sign in free agency. Instead, he let them sacrifice their two brightest young assets (Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler) to obtain his services; making them less threatening to the Eastern Conference’s elite. In addition to giving up Gallinari and Chandler, New York also gave up two valuable rotation pieces in Raymond Felton and Timofey Mozgov.
The Knicks entered the playoffs that season as the sixth seed. Billups was hurt, and a couple of dudes named Landry Fields and Ronny Turiaf were in the starting lineup, so the mighty Boston Celtics swept New York right off the floor in the first round.
But Anthony got his money. The Knicks rewarded the superstar scorer with a three-year, $65 million contract extension upon completion of the deal. His financial concerns were alleviated. It was Anthony’s first mistake. It was the first time he prioritized money over winning, but it wasn’t the last.
Anthony instantly became the most-hyped (and criticized) Knick since Patrick Ewing. The Hall of Famer is arguably the greatest Knick of all time but Anthony being born in New York gave him an instant connection to the fans that they never had with Ewing.
Melo had three seasons with the Knicks before he would be forced to think about his next move. While he racked up big numbers, his teams had little postseason success due largely in part to an inferior supporting cast.
Anthony’s numbers are especially impressive in 2012-13 he won the scoring title, and New York won 54 games. The Knicks had advanced past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since the 1999-00 season. It was a giant milestone for the franchise and Anthony was an integral part of it which made the following season all the more crushing.
New York took a giant step back, missing the playoffs altogether, and Anthony had a big decision to make as he was facing free agency likely for the final time in the prime of his career. The ten-time All-Star had his pick of playoff teams like the Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, and Houston Rockets.
New York decided to shake things up in response to their recent failure; hiring former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson to run basketball operations who quickly made his mark by firing Anthony ally Mike Woodson. The future of Anthony in New York was up in the air.
Some thought Anthony would decide to move on with a better team. Others assumed, correctly, that he wouldn’t be able to pass up on the money and in the end, Anthony made the likely move. He re-upped with the Knicks on a five-year deal worth $124 million.
Anthony’s ball-stopping play, high volume of shots, and high usage rate earned him a reputation around the league as selfish. His fans blamed the lack of a strong supporting cast, while his detractors said he wasn’t good enough to carry a team. That brand new contract (armed with the now infamous no-trade clause) put an even bigger target on Melo’s back.
What followed was three straight seasons of pure mediocrity. New York hasn’t sniffed the playoffs and all of Anthony’s most memorable moments have been off the court related. Whether it be his deteriorating relationship with Jackson or his separation from his wife.
The addition of Kristaps Porzingis, Anthony’s heir apparent, was the lone bright spot in a three-year period tainted by triangles, washed up former MVPs, and brawling head coaches.
Now Anthony is faced with another decision regarding his basketball future. It’s the final major crossroads in a Hall of Fame career. Where does Anthony want to continue playing basketball?
Much like back when he was in Denver, everyone in the league knows he wants out. Except for this time, Anthony holds all the cards. He’s wielding that no-trade clause like it’s a machete and the Knicks are running out of options.
Marc Berman of The New York Post reports that Anthony doesn’t want to go the to the Cleveland Cavaliers anymore following the Kyrie Irving drama. He’s narrowed his choice down to one team: the Houston Rockets.
The Houston Rockets are coached by former Anthony foil Mike D’Antoni. So, why on earth would he want to go there? Well, Houston is a big market. It’s the biggest market available to him now that Chris Paul left the Los Angeles Clippers for the Rockets.
Houston is an excellent team, but they don’t need Anthony. They have enough scoring, and they’re not a great basketball fit with that up-tempo offense that Melo has already rebelled against once. If he were honest with himself, he’d realize that.
A couple of small market teams have shown interest in him, the Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder. Both teams make more sense for Anthony. He’s not a No. 1 option anymore. If the last few years in New York have proven anything, it’s that. In Portland and OKC he’d have two guys ahead of him to carry the load.
Anthony seemingly forcing this trade to Houston proves he hasn’t learned a thing in the last six years. He learned nothing from his stubbornness in demanding a trade to New York instead of waiting for free agency; thus losing potential allies to Denver and he learned nothing from choosing the Knicks over a group of playoff teams back in 2014.
Melo made his money, obtained the fame, and created the brand that he wanted from playing basketball in New York City. He should want more now, but it’s still more of the same.