By Jason Keidel
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This slice of cyberspace hasn’t been too kind to Carmelo Anthony.
After their 116-105 loss at Oklahoma City on Wednesday night, the Knicks have a .445 winning percentage since acquiring Anthony six years ago.
The Knicks have won one playoff series win since the 2000-01 season. And a total of just seven playoff games.
They are 7-21 since Christmas.
When the Knicks acquired Anthony, only two local media members vehemently asserted he would do nothing to bring the Knicks closer to a title — Peter Vecsey and yours truly. And, of course, we are resoundingly right.
It was purely professional, not personal. There was simply nothing in his history to suggest that Anthony could be the leading man on a championship team. He fell under the banner of ballers who could light up the scoreboard but did little else to make his team or teammates better, from George Gervin to Dominique Wilkins to Tracy McGrady. They’re fun to watch from October until April. Sometimes until May. But never June.
So while this may sound surreal, or at least incongruous, this is nonetheless the truth.
The Knicks owe Anthony a serious solid. For playing in New York. For staying in New York. For being a gentleman. For being a professional, among the most unprofessional franchise in pro sports. If your retort is that they’re all paid millions to act accordingly, then please consider the litany of boneheads swathed in orange and blue since Y2K.
The Knicks make the Yankees Bronx Zoo clubs of the late ’70s look like a temperance meeting.
Yet despite the absurdity and obscenity that the Knicks call basketball, Anthony has kept his head down, mouth shut and the net wet with field goals. He has navigated the media minefield of New York City, a team and town with more media potholes than Eighth Avenue.
Anthony even handled the Charles Oakley disaster with aplomb. Placed in an impossible position, squeezed between sentiment for a former player and loyalty to his employer, bouquets of microphones shoved under his chin every night, Anthony has found the perfect neutral tone while not coming across as soft or a Madison Square Garden shill.
Forbes just released a list of the most valuable teams in the NBA. And despite their biblical incompetence, the Knicks chime (and cash) in at $3.3 billion. And while some teams in the top 10 — like the Cleveland Cavaliers — lost money last year, the Knicks have an operating profit of $141 million.
So what solid do Dolan and the Knicks owe their franchise player?
Move him to another franchise.
Sure, the club has made it clear, in their uniquely overt and obnoxious way, they are willing to trade their All-Star scorer. For a price. At first it was a price no one wanted to pay. Then they shaved their demands. And now the Knicks have such a stench of desperation that no one seems interested in dealing for Anthony for anything more than scraps.
If scraps are what it takes, then make it so.
Anthony or not, the Knicks are still rich, they’re still selling out the World’s Most Overrated Arena, they still have otherwise intelligent New Yorkers under this surreal spell. And considering they’re already in their springtime freefall from relevance, they won’t miss Anthony on the court.
The move that has the media and masses drooling is Anthony to Cleveland, to play for the defending NBA champions and with his buddy LeBron James. A week ago, trade talks were reduced to a whisper. But the recent knee injury to Kevin Love has revived the rumor mill. The Knicks, of course, would love the injured Love in exchange for their aging leader.
That won’t happen, of course. Cleveland — or at least James — is too smart to surrender a younger and better all-around player. (Yes, it’s rather funny that James, who has publicly longed to play with his BFFs, from Chris Paul to Anthony, winces at the idea of pushing any valuable chips to the middle for Melo.) However, the Knicks and Cavs have until Feb. 23 to make this alchemy a reality.
But if it’s at all financially feasible, the Knicks owe Anthony, who would have to waive his no-trade clause, this assist — an irony considering he was the hardwood iteration of a black hole. Perhaps only Kevin McHale was more renowned as the last stop for the basketball.
Perhaps there’s an All-Star omen to this thing, a certain irony to this month’s All-Star Game. The kind of irony only sports can provide. With his injury, Love cannot play Sunday. His replacement?
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel