With a record of 5-27, things are not looking good for the New York Knicks. The playoffs do not appear to be on the horizon this season for the Knicks as they are on pace for their worst season since the 2007-2008 NBA campaign. Phil Jackson was an 11-time NBA Champion as a head coach and when he took over as the Knicks team president last spring, he was able to breath some life into Madison Square Garden. Jackson’s first order of business as the Knicks president was to convince small forward Carmelo Anthony to remain in town. Anthony opted out of his contract with the Knicks last summer and the allure of going to another NBA city in the effort of chasing a championship was rather tempting. The Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls were both in hot pursuit of Anthony. But being that the Knickerbockers could offer Anthony more money, he decided to remain in New York City. Anthony believed in Jackson’s long-term vision for the Knicks as it is tough to say no to a man that has made NBA Champions out of Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant while also receiving an additional $40 million from the Knicks. Money cannot buy happiness and now frustration is creeping in at Madison Square Garden for Anthony.
In spite of Anthony averaging 24.5 points per game this season, the Knicks are abysmal. Under Jackson and first-year head coach Derek Fisher, the Knicks are running the “triangle offense”. The triangle is supposed to open up the offense, but the Knicks appear to be playing in the Bermuda Triangle. The majority of the Knicks roster has reservations about playing in the triangle while Fisher and Jackson remain adamant about running their system. And with neither side willing to compromise, the result is a losing product for the Knicks which has resulted in another lost season for Anthony.
Anthony entered the NBA in 2003 as a 19-year old prodigy that was fresh off of guiding Syracuse University to a national championship. Anthony was drafted third overall by the Denver Nuggets and the team would make the postseason every year with him in the rugged Western Conference. But it wasn’t until the Nuggets acquired point guard Chauncey Billups from the Detroit Pistons that they were able to get out of the first round as they reached the Western Conference Finals in 2009. And after seeing fellow 2003 NBA Draft classmates in Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James come together to form a “Big Three” with the Miami Heat in 2010, Anthony wanted out of Denver.
In February 2011, Anthony got his wish as the Nuggets traded him to the Knicks. Anthony was finally on the big stage in the NBA which also brought with it the added pressure to win a championship.
With the Knicks, Anthony would immediately clash with former head coach Mike D’Antoni as his game plan didn’t coincide with his new superstar’s style of play. It wouldn’t be long before D’Antoni would be fired and replaced by Mike Woodson who did lead the Knicks to 54 wins during the 2012-2013 NBA season and their first trip to the second round of the NBA Playoffs since 2000. But after winning 37 games last season and falling short of the playoffs, Woodson was fired by Jackson who wanted a head coach to run the triangle.
The majority of the Knicks roster will not be around next season and Jackson’s desire for a quick turnaround relies on hitting on a potential high draft pick next spring along with luring another superstar player the likes of current Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant to the Big Apple which is a long shot. Anthony is in his 12th NBA season and he has only been out of the first round twice. Anthony is one of the best scorers of this era in the NBA, but unlike his time in college at Syracuse, he has been unable to make the players around him better due to the fact the he plays isolation basketball without getting his teammates involved enough which is a no-no in the triangle.
Anthony is 30-years old and he only has a handful of prime years left in the NBA and at this point he is what he is. A bothersome knee could be the first sign of Anthony slowing down which will make that elusive NBA Championship that much tougher to get. It wasn’t exactly etched in stone that Anthony would have won an NBA Championship with either the Rockets or Bulls, but both of those teams are more talented than the Knicks and the only way for it to work would have meant that Anthony would have to take less shots per game. Anthony is a volume shooter and he needs the basketball in order to be effective. And as long as Anthony is taking roughly shots per game 20 shots per game to score 24 points, it will hamper the overall effectiveness of the team.
As long as Knicks owner James Dolan stays out of Jackson’s way, he will attempt to put a team together. Jackson believes in Fisher who believes in the triangle as they are trying to make it work in the Big Apple with Anthony as the centerpiece. The Knicks are currently 10.5 games behind the Brooklyn Nets for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and with the way that the boys on Eighth Avenue and 33rd street are currently playing the deficit won’t get any smaller anytime soon. More than likely Anthony will make his eighth NBA All-Star team this February and while being in the locker room with the likes of James, Wade, and Bosh who have championship rings and with the likes of Bulls point guard Derrick Rose whom he passed up an opportunity to play with last summer, the seething frustration will only increase. Unless a team signs a player the caliber of James, a quick fix in the NBA is not really in the cards. And by the looks of things, this rebuild for Jackson and the Knicks will take longer than expected. Anthony took the money and remained the loyal soldier. But just like I stated that money cannot buy happiness, it surely cannot buy an NBA Championship either. And by the looks of things Anthony is going to fall into that category of players such as his former Nuggets teammate Allen Iverson and former NBA player Adrian Dantley as great scorers that finished their playing days with naked fingers.