Carmelo Anthony has played his last game for the New York Knicks this season — and possibly in his career.
The team announced before Tuesday night’s game that an MRI revealed a small labrum tear in Anthony’s right shoulder. With the Knicks out of playoff contention, he will be shut down for the final two games.
The injury will be re-evaluated in about a month, the team said, but no surgery is required.
The Knicks played at the Brooklyn Nets onTuesday night and finish the regular season on Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors in Madison Square Garden.
Anthony, an 11-year veteran, said he will test free agency in July.
New team president Phil Jackson said the Knicks want to retain Anthony as a building block, but with little room to spend beyond Anthony in free agency and no first-round pick, the rebuilding effort could be slow for the Knicks.
Anthony has never gone into an NBA offseason without participating in the playoffs.
“Everything for me is just cloudy. I’ve never been in this situation before,” Anthony said. “I don’t know what to say about this situation. The only thing for me is to stay positive. There’s going to be a lot of questions that I have, that I’m going to be asking myself: ‘Why this? Why that?’ I’m pretty sure I won’t find no answers anytime soon.”
Jackson will meet with Anthony in the offseason, but what traction the new Knicks’ boss could have in competition with other contenders is difficult to debate. Anthony himself said he considered Jackson a “big play” in his future considerations, but there are also indications he prefers to seek an opportunity — albeit for less money — with a contender such as the Chicago Bulls or even Miami Heat, depending on where LeBron James and Chris Bosh land.
Anthony could be a headliner free agent for Chicago or others with ample cap space. The Bulls would need to amnesty Carlos Boozer to afford Anthony, who would still need to be open to playing for less than the max deal the Knicks can offer.
Then again, given Jackson’s public pitch of “team basketball” as the future of the franchise, he might be angling for Anthony to consider a lesser deal, following the blueprint of Heat president Pat Riley when the “Big Three” came together three summers ago.
“When that time comes,” Anthony said of his meeting with the Knicks’ brass, “I’m pretty sure everything will be laid out, we would talk about it. Until then, I’m going to feel this way.”
Anthony finishes the season averaging 27.4 points while playing almost 39 minutes per game.
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