NBA AM: Carmelo Anthony Isn’t Happy


This Is What He Signed Up For

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is frustrated. After another gut wrenching loss last night, Anthony vented to the media that he was struggling to stay positive. Anthony said the losing was getting to him and that he needed to get away from the team last night to decompress. Knicks fans are starting to feel the same way.

Losing is never easy. Losing as much as the Knicks have lost over the past few years only compounds the issue. For Anthony to put a voice to the situation shouldn’t be altogether surprising; after all, he expected a lot more out of this season than he’s gotten. Some of that is his fault, most of it is on his team, but the reality of the situation is this is what Anthony signed on for.

Anthony did the free agent dance in the summer of 2014. He met with playoff contenders like the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets. He considered other big-market teams like the Los Angeles Lakers. In the end, Anthony opted for the $125 million deal the Knicks had on the table despite coming off a 37-win season. He took the money rather than the chance to join a would-be contender. He signed knowing there was a big rebuild coming and the Knicks made no secret of that. This was not a bait and switch. The plan for the future was laid out for Anthony and he signed on anyway.

It’s been a downward spiral since.

Anthony missed a huge chunk of the season last year due to a knee injury and while the Knicks did a respectable job in free agency a summer ago, they did not land a big fish free agent. The Knicks have Anthony and rookie Kristaps Porzingis to build around, and that’s frankly not enough. There have been moments for other Knicks players this season, but no one has really risen to the challenge and that’s part of Anthony’s frustration.

During the All-Star break, it was suggested that maybe it was time for Anthony to consider waiving the no-trade clause in his contract and let the Knicks find him a better fitting home. Anthony, for his part, refused the idea saying he’d rather remain with the Knicks and that wining a single championship in New York would be sweeter to him than winning multiple championships somewhere else.

Anthony has long had an emotional connection to living and playing in New York. He prides himself on being a Knick and despite those in his inner circle conceding that winning in New York may not happen, Anthony continues to say he does not want to leave. However, as the season slides away and the playoffs become more of a reach, is Anthony’s frustration with the situation going to overcome his love affair with the city?

Wanting something to work does not mean it will work. That’s something Anthony is going to have to face as a reality. Would missing the playoffs this year be the turning point in the relationship? Will watching his friends compete in the postseason again while his season is over finally push Anthony to the point where he would entertain being somewhere else?

Anthony is frustrated. And it’s fair to say that he is not the only one that is not happy with where the team stands today, but this is what he signed on for.

The Knicks are 24-34 on the season, which is the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference and six and half games out of the eighth seed. New York has 24 games remaining on their schedule with 11 of those being home games and 12 games versus teams currently with a record above .500.

If the playoffs do not materialize, is it fair for Anthony to be upset or is that why the Knicks agreed to pay him so much to stick around?

Losing is never fun, but Anthony had a choice and he chose this situation. This summer, he’ll have another choice and if chooses to stay in New York, he only has himself to blame.

Voiding A Trade

Yesterday, the Detroit Pistons opted to void the three-team trade that brought them Houston’s Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton. Also included in the deal was veteran big man Joel Anthony, who was sent to Philadelphia, and a first-round draft pick that was sent to Houston.

The Pistons did a thorough medical review of Motiejunas’ bothersome back and felt that the issues surrounding it were too significant to approve the trade.

So how does something like this happen?

During trade negations, it is fairly common that if a player has a known medical issue that teams swap medical information to ensure that the teams involved are not sending out damaged goods. The Pistons were completely aware of Motiejunas’ medical condition and had seen the Rockets’ medical reports on Motiejunas. However, part of the trade process is that each team is permitted to conduct their own physical of an arriving player and for the most part these go off without much of a problem. However, in the case of Motiejunas, the Pistons saw some issues and had Motiejunas see a specialist who did not view the injury as positively as the Rockets doctors did.

Each team is allowed to interpret the long-term health of a player under their own terms.

The Pistons wavered pretty significantly on keeping the trade intact; however, they ultimately decided the risk on Motiejunas was not worth the first-round pick they were sending out or the salary they were absorbing.

This trade brings to light an ugly part of the trade process and that’s the unintended consequence of a trade going bad. The 76ers waived forward JaKarr Sampson to create roster room for the incoming Joel Anthony. With the trade having fallen apart, the 76ers lost Sampson to the Denver Nuggets (who signed him to a two-year deal yesterday when he cleared waivers). This means the 76ers not only lost the guy they wanted in Anthony, they also lost Sampson and had to pay him the balance of his $845,059 salary.

Said differently, not only did the 76ers not get their player, they paid $268,000 to not have Sampson.

For the Rockets, who did not trigger other deals at the deadline, they thought they had gotten under the luxury tax line with the Motiejunas/Thornton deal and now find themselves back above the tax line, which has consequences this year and going forward with the NBA’s repeater tax system.

While it’s fun to talk about trades and trade speculation is one of the biggest interest drivers in the sport, the truth of the matter is there is a reason some teams stay out of the trade market at the deadline and why some trades that make a ton of sense never get very far. That’s because not all trades work out as planned.

In the case of this blown deal, the Rockets and 76ers got hosed pretty significantly, which illustrates the risk involved in waiting until the 11th hour to make a deal.

Had this deal gotten done several days earlier, there may have been room to find alternate deals.

There is risk in every transaction and as the Pistons proved this week, nothing is truly done until the doctors sign off on it.

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About Steve Kyler

Steve Kyler

Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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