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Knicks Can’t Polish Up The Decline Of Carmelo Anthony

Anyone want an aging former superstar? The rumors about the Knicks shopping Carmelo Anthony hard are coming fast and furious. but with each reported fantasy trade the anticipated return is dropping as Phil Jackson can’t polish up the the nearly straight-line decline of the once formidable forward. It’s hard to make any deal when you don’t have faith in what you are selling.

Don’t be fooled by his 22.7 points per game this season. Anthony signed his new four year deal coming off of seasons of 28.7 points in 2012-13, 27.4 points in 2013-14 and 24.2 points in a knee injury shortened 2014-15. Apparently the NBA head coaches aren’t fooled. Anthony is about to miss the NBA All-Star Game for the first time in a decade, and his recent sore knee is nothing to be concerned about (sarcasm) as reported by Stefan Bondy of the NY Daily News at the start of the month, just ask him.

“I was contemplating if I was going to give it a go, give it a shot,” Anthony said. “Then the more that I played, the sorer it got.”

Anthony wasn’t concerned about missing Monday’s home game against Magic.

“No, I don’t think it’s that serious,” he said. “I think it’s just the fact that it happened (Friday night), and I tried to go out there and play on (Saturday). I don’t think it’ll be an issue.”

Assuming away potential knee problems in a soon-to-be 33-year-old player (good luck with that Phil), the biggest problem the Knicks face in shipping Anthony out of town on a rail is he has a no trade clause and has repeatedly said he doesn’t want to go. Then there’s his massive $24.5 million salary escalating over the next two seasons to $27.9 million when Anthony could opt out (he won’t) and a 15 percent trade kicker just to make the numbers even worse.

It’s hard not to compare the Anthony situation to what happened recently between the Celtics and the Nets when Brooklyn went all-in for a couple of aging former superstars, gave away a boatload of talent and futures, and sent their team into the abyss for a brief shinning moment in the second round of the postseason. No one would do that again so soon after that lesson?

The signs of a player in decline are everywhere. He’s playing the fewest minutes per game of his career (33.6) and this will be the third straight year of decline. His offensive rebounding has almost fallen completely off the map at under 1 per game, again for the first time in his career and less than half of what it was four years ago. His ability to grab any rebounds was never all that great and has fallen to 129th among NBA forwards. Of course, his scoring has also dropped since signing that new contract as well.

If Anthony can stay on the court and the team that takes him doesn’t give up too much, preferably including contracts they’d like to dump to make the trade math work, then sure, Anthony could help the right team in the right situation this year. But does an aging offensive-minded player owed +$54 million over the next two seasons after this one sound like a bargain just waiting to be picked up?

Is there an NBA GM desperate enough to try saving their job by sending actual difference-making talent back to New York in return for a couple of seasons of Anthony or will Jackson allow his New York legacy to be that of the guy who sent Anthony packing for some role players and a bag of magic beans (a.k.a. salary cap relief)?



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson