Knicks Trade Rumors: Pros, Cons Of Not Trading Carmelo Anthony

Jan 15, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) dribbles the ball up court against Toronto Raptors in the first half at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 15, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) dribbles the ball up court against Toronto Raptors in the first half at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Carmelo Anthony has informed Phil Jackson that he wants to remain a member of the New York Knicks. What are the pros and cons of that decision?

The future of the New York Knicks may have been determined on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. Franchise player Carmelo Anthony and team president Phil Jackson held a long-awaited meeting to discuss the nine-time All-Star’s future in New York.

After weeks of speculation and tension, a decision appears to have been reached as to whether or not Anthony will remain with the Knicks moving forward.

Anthony has a no-trade clause in his contract, which gives him the power to decline any trade proposal he’s included in. Thus, the rumors of Jackson wanting to move Anthony were met by the reality that the 32-year-old would have to sign off on any attempt at a trade.

According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, Jackson asked Anthony a simple question during their meeting: do you want to be traded?

Per Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, Anthony told Jackson that he wants to stay and win in New York.

That’s a decisive answer to a franchise-altering question.

With Anthony under contract through 2018 and possessing a player option for 2019, the Knicks will need to find a winning balance. In order to do so, the rational approach would be to address the pros and cons of Anthony staying in New York, and figure out what both sides need to do better.

The question is: what are the benefits of Anthony remaining in New York and in which areas must he and the Knicks collectively improve?

Jan 9, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) reacts after hitting a three point shot against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 9, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) reacts after hitting a three point shot against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Pro: He Wants To Be Here

This may not seem important to outsiders, but true fans of the New York Knicks know how significant this is. Carmelo Anthony has been through the ringer in New York, yet he still wants to be a member of the Knicks.

For an organization that’s had trouble garnering interest from free agents, the fact that Anthony actually wants to be here is undeniably appealing.

Anthony is a star-caliber player and household name who could fit into a Big Three and help a team win a championship. He may or may not be talented enough to be the No. 1 player on a championship team, but he’s as respected as any player in the NBA.

Players of his status and notoriety rarely want to play for the Knicks, which has proven true both during the Phil Jackson era and before it.

The fact that Anthony is sticking it out through this recent fiasco could influence a high-profile free agent to overlook recent transgressions. Anthony has clout in NBA circle. Now that he and Jackson have made their union official, they should team up in recruiting free agents.

Anthony and the Knicks will be together for at least one more season. The fact that he wants to be here should put the rumors to rest and limit the distractions.

Dec 25, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) blocks a shot by by Boston Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko (8) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 25, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) blocks a shot by by Boston Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko (8) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Con: Defensive Inconsistency

Carmelo Anthony put forth an admirable defensive effort during the 2015-16 NBA regular season. It’s understandable if a third consecutive season without a postseason appearance rattled his confidence, but there’s no excuse for what’s transpired in 2016-17.

The New York Knicks have been awful on defense, and while it isn’t any one player’s fault, Anthony hasn’t done enough to help.

Thus far in 2016-17, the Knicks have a defensive rating of 110.2 with Anthony on the court—the second-worst mark of any player on the team. When Anthony comes off the court, the Knicks have a defensive rating of 103.4.

Not only is that a difference of 6.8 points per 100 possessions, but New York’s best defensive rating has been accumulated when Anthony hasn’t been on the court.

Anthony isn’t the only player to blame for the Knicks’ defensive inconsistency. He’s a part of the problem, however, and his choosing to remain in New York should come with a commitment to defend at a higher level.

If Anthony and Jackson can only come to one mutual agreement, it should include Anthony defending with a more consistent level of effort and intensity.

Dec 17, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) guards New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) in the third quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 127-114. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 17, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) guards New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) in the third quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 127-114. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Pro: There Aren’t Many Scorers Better Than Anthony

It’s hard to argue against the belief that Carmelo Anthony has fallen too deep in love with isolation possessions. 23.6 percent of his possessions end in isolation, but he has an effective field goal percentage of just 42.5 percent in those scenarios.

The truth of the matter is: though he needs to alter his approach, there aren’t many players in the NBA who are more lethal in isolation than Anthony.

Anthony is currently averaging 22.2 points, 2.0 3-point field goals made, and 5.3 free throws made per game. He boasts career averages of 24.8 points, 1.2 3-point field goals made, and 7.3 free throws made per game.

Currently ranked No. 26 on the all-time scoring list and No. 14 in career scoring average, New York would be hard pressed to find a scorer as lethal as Anthony.

Of the players who will become free agents in 2017, only Stephen Curry and Blake Griffin are comparable scorers to Anthony—and neither are expected to come to New York. Of the players Anthony could be dealt for, few, if any, players can score as well as he.

Anthony and the Knicks need to operate offensively at a more efficient level, but there are few scorers as talented as ‘Melo.

Jan 9, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks general manager Phil Jackson watches during the fourth quarter of a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 9, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks general manager Phil Jackson watches during the fourth quarter of a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Con: Unnecessary Distractions

Whether you believe it’s Carmelo Anthony or Phil Jackson who’s to blame for the off-court drama, it exists. That much can’t be disputed, and in the midst of a tough season, it’s becoming a distraction.

Rather than fielding questions and channeling his focus to basketball activities, Anthony is constantly badgered about his relationship with an executive.

Rational thinking would state that Anthony telling Jackson he’s staying in New York would put this issue to rest. Unfortunately, this is New York, where even the smallest of stories will become headlines.

Thus, if the Knicks continue to lose games, it stands to reason that the New York media will continue to make the Anthony-Jackson relationship a recurring topic of conversation.

New York is well below .500 and drifting further and further away from an elusive postseason appearance. 100 percent of the Knicks’ focus should be on basketball, but instead, both Anthony and his teammates are answering questions about the team president.

If the Knicks are going to turn the 2016-17 NBA regular season around, then Anthony and Jackson will need to bury the hatchet.

Nov 30, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) and forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) during a game at Target Center. The Knicks defeated the Timberwolves 106-104. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 30, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) and forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) during a game at Target Center. The Knicks defeated the Timberwolves 106-104. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Pro: Mentoring Kristaps Porzingis

Whether or not you like the way Carmelo Anthony plays the game, he’s done an outstanding job as a mentor to Kristaps Porzingis. He took Porzingis under his wing in 2015-16, has done the same with Mindaugas Kuzminskas in 2016-17, and is heralded by his teammates as a leader.

Anthony must execute at a higher level on the court, but there’s no way around how instrumental he’s been in the development of Porzingis.

Anthony has helped Porzingis and Kuzminskas improve their proficiency in isolation, as well as their confidence as shooters. He’s also responsible for drawing the assignment of scoring against the opposition’s best defensive player.

In turn, he alleviates the burden from his teammates and enables players like Porzingis to attack with less resistance.

Off the court, Anthony’s presence protects Porzingis from criticism for any cold stretches he may endure. It’d be irrational to expect a second-year player to lead New York to a title, but rational thinking isn’t always present in sports debates.

Anthony protects Porzingis both on and off the court, which is something that cannot be overvalued in his development process.

Anthony plans to see his Knicks contract through. It’s time for both he and the front office to take accountability.

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