Timing is a funny thing. It has the ability to take a decision that at one point seemed perfectly rational and sound, and call it into question. With fixed decisions that occur at a specific moment, timing is an integral part of the fabric of context that plays a much larger role in decisions than we realize.
A good example of this is Carmelo Anthony’s impending free agency: A year ago, it was a foregone conclusion that Melo would re-up with the New York Knicks. Had his early termination option been for last season it would have been easy to see Carmelo returning: he made it out of the first round of the playoffs for just the second time in his ten-year career, and had a team seemingly on the rise having finished with the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
A half-season later, as a disgusted Anthony sat on the bench watching his team get blown out for their fourth straight double-digit loss, the thought of leaving must have crossed his mind. And how could you blame him? On Monday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, Knick starters not named Carmelo Anthony combined to shoot 6-of-24 from the field, following a 10-for-32 performance on Friday night against the Clippers (in a game where Anthony himself notched 26 points and 20 rebounds).
Having statistically the same if not a slightly better season than last year, while maintaining a player efficiency rating among the league’s top 10, Anthony has seen more than a few of his teammates take marked steps backward.
It’s not just the lack of help that could drive Anthony away, but the organization’s disfunction that has been on full display this year. A perfect microcosm of this was evident on Monday: as the Nets final roster addition Alan Anderson notched 15 points (and was a game-high +17), I was reminded that the Knicks’ final roster spot went, in an act of nepotism, to J.R. Smith’s brother Chris.
I’ll forever have respect for Anthony for wanting to come to New York, and taking on the challenge (and the ruthless media scrutiny) that even LeBron James wasn’t willing to. And it’s been incredibly fun watching what I believe is one of the more misunderstood players in the NBA.
If he stays after a season like this, you’ll know he’s loyal and truly wants to be a Knick. But as Carmelo looks at another season of his prime lost, seemingly farther from a ring than ever, if he left – could you really blame him?