It’s not fair to blame Carmelo Anthony for all the Knicks’ problems, but when you’re the star player on a disappointing team, guess who gets to be the goat?
That’s especially the case when you’re referencing a team from New York.
But how much of the Knicks’ second-rate start is Anthony’s fault? And how much should we really expect from the guy? Is he even a legitimate No. 1 option?
Scoring-wise, the answer is without a doubt.
No one can argue Anthony will join Bernard King in Knicks lore as forwards who could put the ball in the basket, man — your attempts to contain them downright feeble.
When Carmelo wants 45 points, he’ll get it. And you’ll shut up and watch.
That’s the good.
The bad is Anthony is a so-so defender, so-so rebounder, so-so when it comes to making winning plays that involve teammates. Not bad; just so-so.
It’s almost been three years since Anthony orchestrated a trade from Denver to New York. The Nuggets have been every bit as good as the Knicks since. Most of the time, the Nuggets are better. Last year, they set a franchise record in wins (57).
This year, the Nuggets (4-5) are struggling at the start. Even so, they’re starting better than Anthony and the Knicks (3-6).
That says something about Anthony and it says something about the rest of us.
It says we probably have a tendency to overrate guys — particularly guys in the world’s media capital — in this age of too much information and sports hysteria.
“I don’t think you can win a title if Carmelo is your best player,” said one opposing scout.
The scout pointed to Anthony’s inability to make teammates better and his issues defending either the small forward or power forward position. Roster restore?
But that’s just one scout’s take.
Perhaps with a fantastic point guard, consistent shooting guard or dominant center, those critical of Anthony would have a different view.
Right now, that is not the Knicks.
They’re mostly a selfish bunch, a team plagued with bad shot selection and a lack of focus on D. They’re a team in chaos.
“I’m not going to do it by myself,” Anthony said after a 20-point home loss to Atlanta. “I don’t want to do it by myself.”
He added: “It’s like we’re not even trying right now.”
That may be why the Knicks have already been the center of the rocky trade-rumor universe. (Well, that and the fact they play in New York and not, say, Des Moines, Iowa.)
Multiple reports have stated guard Iman Shumpert is on the block. Another from the New York Daily News claimed the Knicks are trying to pry injured All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo from Boston.
But the Celtics aren’t interested, and right now, neither is anyone else.
So what’s taking place off the floor is every bit as woeful as what’s on it.
The Knicks insist coach Mike Woodson is keeping his job. They’ve tried to add harmonizing pieces such as Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith to make Anthony’s life easier.
Whether it is injury or ineptitude, nothing has worked.
It’s not entirely Anthony’s fault, it’s not entirely the Knicks’ fault. It’s not entirely the fault of any one single individual or entity.
But it is an organization in early disarray. If it continues, the man everyone talks about, the man who can score at will and really wants to win (really, he does) may be the exact fellow you move to start anew.
After all, it’s not like Carmelo Anthony has done enough to warrant keeping.
Off the Bench
• Both Cleveland and Miami have already held players-only meetings this season. The Cavaliers’ summit even made national headlines, with reports that things got confrontational. Players-only meetings allow guys to get things off their chest and give them a chance to be brutally honest. Topics such as shot selection and ball distribution are usually the focus. It’s not uncommon for things to get a little heated.
• One NBA general manager is all for players-only meetings. “They can be productive, because sometimes it’s better to hear from your teammates than (management) or coaches,” he said. “But it’s too early for that stuff if you ask me.”
• Entering Monday night, only four teams in the Eastern Conference (Indiana, Miami, Chicago and Atlanta) owned winning records. That’s compared to nine in the West.
• The Hawks haven’t made the conference finals since switching to the East from the West in 1970. No one suspects that will change this year.
• But here’s something to think about for those with early struggles: The 1984-85 Cavs started 2-19 and still made the playoffs. That team was coached by George Karl, the reigning NBA Coach of the Year (Nuggets) who is inexplicably unemployed. Well, unless you count his current job as a TV studio analyst.
• Karl had issues with star player World B. Free back then. They despised each other to start the season and had no beef about sharing that info with the press. They’re lucky Twitter wasn’t around, that’s for sure.
• Anyway, Karl and Free had a heart-to-heart and resolved their differences. They practically became besties. The Cavs went on to finish 36-46 and advanced to the first round of the playoffs. They met Larry Bird’s Celtics and lost, three games to one. But the Cavs gave Boston all it could handle. Each team concluded the series with the same amount of points (449).