By John Schmeelk
» More Columns
Knicks fans need to tread very carefully because they could actually have an effect on their franchise’s ability to trade Carmelo Anthony for a good return over the next few weeks.
Team president Phil Jackson has already done his best to make the Knicks appear desperate to move Anthony. Already backed into a corner due to the nine-time All-Star’s no-trade clause, Jackson decided that he wasn’t at enough of a disadvantage and made it worse.
After the Charley Rosen column on FanRag Sports earlier this month, in which the Jackson confidant wrote that “Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York,” rumors quickly spread about how the Knicks were peddling Anthony all over the country trying to find a return for their star. The impression immediately became that the Knicks were growing desperate to deal him. Combine that apparent desperation with Anthony’s no-trade clause and his bloated salary, and the ability for even the best general manager to get a good return by the trade deadline becomes nearly impossible.
The Knicks’ last home game made things worse, as fans booed Anthony after every missed shot. The Knicks were already considered to be in crisis mode, but if the home crowd is against its star player on a nightly basis, the pressure to move Anthony would intensify. Owner James Dolan is uncomfortable with the Knicks being a public dumpster fire, and his own crowd acting like Anthony is a pariah will only make things worse.
You want to boo Anthony after he makes a horrendous defensive play or doesn’t hustle? By all means. But booing him when he touches the ball or misses a shot is stupid. It is only going to precipitate a poor trade with a bad turn that hurts the Knicks long term. You want Wesley Johnson, Austin Rivers and a 2021 first-round pick for Anthony? Then by all means boo.
Besides, is it really Anthony that Knicks fans should be booing? The deficiencies in his game are apparent, but everyone already knew what they were when the Knicks re-signed him in 2014. It was Jackson’s poor roster construction that forces Anthony to play small forward, where his weaknesses are exacerbated. It was Jackson who has constantly added defensively deficient point guards such as Jose Calderon, Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings who make Anthony’s issues worse. It’s Jackson who gave Anthony a no-trade clause, a big contract and a huge trade kicker.
If anything, Anthony has been loyal to the Knicks and the city to a fault. Has anyone been surprised by how he has played the last few years, good and bad? If they are, they weren’t paying attention before he signed his last contract. Anthony has been exactly what any reasonable person should have expected (which is why re-signing him was a mistake, but that’s a different conversation for a different day).
Boo Jackson instead. Start chants about him. Let Dolan know you aren’t happy about the direction of the franchise, piloted by “Chief Triangle.” Jackson has already botched nearly every trade he has made as Knicks president, spare the Tim Hardaway Jr.-for-Jerian Grant move.
Anthony might not be a top-five or top-10 player anymore, but he is still a player who can carry an offense. He is an excellent catch-and-shoot player, and as a stretch four, he is very hard to guard.
You need to get a good young player in return for him on a better contract along with a first-round pick in the next couple of seasons. Anything less and the Knicks have been robbed. They might have to wait until the offseason to get that type of return, and that’s fine.
But booing Anthony relentlessly and embarrassing him at the Garden every night makes the chances that Jackson and Dolan exhibit that sort of patience smaller and smaller.
For all things Knicks, Giants and the world of sports, please follow John on Twitter at @Schmeelk