New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony

What will Melo's recovery look like?

February, 24, 2015
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NEW YORK -- The Knicks have more than $100 million invested in Carmelo Anthony’s long-term health.

So, naturally, there is some concern in the organization about Anthony’s ability to return to form following his recent knee surgery.

Knicks president Phil Jackson voiced those concerns last week when asked if he had any misgivings about Anthony’s surgery given his age (30) and years of NBA service (12 seasons).

“Yeah,” Jackson said, “We all do.”

Jackson then quickly expressed confidence that Anthony would be fine.

But it’s fair for Jackson -- and everyone with a stake in Anthony’s long-term viability -- to wonder how he will fare after surgery.

There’s no way to predict how going under the knife can affect Anthony, of course.

But at least one medical expert has concerns about his ability to return to full health.

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AP Photo/Mike GrollWith a floe of ice no longer enough, Carmelo Anthony has undergone surgery that ended his season.
“I find that older athletes with this issue and surgery continue to have some pain and disability,” ESPN medical expert Dr. Mark Adickes says. “That is why my preferred treatment method is conservative (injections and therapy) unless a large tear occurs. Surgery does not SOLVE this problem.”

Recent history supports Adickes’ point.

Dwyane Wade and Danny Granger -- two players who have had Anthony’s procedure recently (a left knee patellar tendon debridement and repair) -- have had issues post-surgery.

Wade had a patellar tendon debridement in May 2007. He played well in the season following surgery, averaging 24.6 points per game, but was held out of the final 21 games because of ongoing problems with his surgically repaired knee.

He elected to undergo a powerful shock-wave treatment -- dubbed the OssaTron treatment -- to fix the problem.

Wade played regularly over the next three seasons but knee trouble flared up in the 2011-12 season. He played in just 49 regular-season games because of various injuries -- including issues with his knee.

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Bart Young/NBAE/Getty ImagesDwyane Wade has picked himself off the court many times after surgeries and remained productive.
In the 2012 playoffs, he had his left knee drained. Wade then had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee following the season.

Wade had a relatively strong 2012-13 season, playing 35 minutes per game and shooting 52 percent from the field in 69 games. But he was affected by knee issues again late in the season and into the playoffs. After the 2013 Finals, he elected to again undergo the powerful shock-wave treatment to treat tendinitis in his surgically-repaired knee.

Will Anthony have the same issues? No one knows. No two surgeries are alike. And no two players are alike. But Wade's ex-teammate, Granger, also had issues following a patellar debridement and repair.

Granger had the surgery late in the 2012-13 season and missed the rest of the Pacers’ season and its run in the playoffs. He then needed a second knee surgery in the 2014 offseason.

Knee issues have severely hindered Granger. He’s appeared in just 71 of his last 135 games. He’s playing 20 minutes per game this season, down from 33 minutes per game in the season prior to his injury.

Players needing additional surgery following a debridement is common.

Jeff Stotts, an injury analyst at Rotowire.com and the founder of Instreetclothes.com, estimates that 45 percent of the 70 players that required the surgery over the past nine seasons underwent an additional surgery on the same leg later in their career.

None of this is being pointed out to suggest that Anthony will have the same issues following his most recent surgery. We actually don’t know exactly what was done to Anthony’s knee yet. But the injury history of Wade and Granger is worth noting as you think about what Anthony may face in the final four years of his Knicks contract.

Also worth noting: Anthony, 30, has played 12 seasons -- and logged 30,000 minutes -- in the NBA.

Players who fit that profile have had various degrees of success in the next four years of their career.

Let’s take Dirk Nowitzki, who entered the NBA at 20 years old, one year older than Carmelo.

He scored 23 points per game and won an NBA title with the Mavericks in his 13th season. His scoring dipped below his career average of 22 in the next three seasons and he played in 195 of a possible 246 regular-season games.

How about Paul Pierce? Pierce’s scoring remained consistent in the three years following his 12th season. He also continued to play 33-plus minutes per game. Pierce experienced a significant dropoff in year 16, which would be the final year of Anthony’s contract.

Is this what Knicks fans have to look forward to over the life of Carmelo's five-year contract that expires in 2019? Only time will tell.

Chauncey: Melo 'needs strong leadership'

February, 19, 2015
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- Carmelo Anthony shouldn’t have played in the All-Star Game and he could use some more leadership in the Knicks' locker room, according to former teammate Chauncey Billups.

Billups, who now is an analyst for ESPN, doesn’t understand why the decision was up to Anthony on when to have season-ending knee surgery as well.

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Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
“I said it all weekend, I wasn’t crazy about his decision to play in the All-Star Game and not play for his own team,” Billups said on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. “My thing is if you are hurt and you know you are going to shut it down, just get the surgery and make that commitment that the Knicks made to him and just get better and not worry about playing for the fans and the All-Star Game. I thought it was poor judgment but to each his own.”

Billups, who played with Anthony for three seasons in Denver and New York, thinks his former teammate will thrive with more leadership around him.

“I enjoyed playing with Melo in the years I had with him,” Billups said. “My perception of him [is] he really needed my guidance, he needed my leadership. I don’t know that he quite knew how to lead a team or a franchise but at that time he was young. I can’t expect him to. He was already a great player but he is best served when he doesn’t have to be the leader of the team.

“That has been shown for years with me and even the year that Jason Kidd played with the Knicks -- he was kind of the leader of the team and that team was a good basketball team. That’s kind of how I perceive him. He is a great player and one thing I love about Melo is he practiced hard every day. He didn’t sit out games. He was a good soldier, pretty sure he still is. But I think he needs other strong leadership in that locker room with him.”

Team president Phil Jackson could be thinking on the same page as Billups. Will the Zen Master be able to put the right pieces around Anthony this summer or next?

“I am not sure,” Billups said. “This is uncharted waters for Phil Jackson. He’s never put together a team and been the president. I got faith in him as a coach.

“I have seen what he can do as a coach but I haven’t seen what he can do as a president. I got to think that he’s got a great feel for putting the right egos and talent and skill sets together. But in this short little span, we haven’t seen it yet.”

Focus now shifts to Carmelo's knee

February, 17, 2015
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The biggest question surrounding the New York Knicks right now has little do with pending trades.

It's all about Carmelo Anthony and his sore left knee.

Anthony said Sunday he hadn't made a definitive decision about his future. But he's acknowledged it's "very likely" that he shuts himself down sometime after the All-Star break to have surgery on his injured left knee.

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Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesCarmelo Anthony has said any surgical procedure on his left knee would likely sideline him for eight weeks.
No one knows at this point exactly when that surgery will take place.

Anthony had hoped to play for several weeks after the All-Star Game, according to league sources with knowledge of the situation.

That plan is now in flux because his knee condition has become a bigger hindrance. He tweaked the injury on Feb. 9 against Miami and was forced to sit the next game.

Anthony on Friday referred to that injury as a "light scare" and talked several times over the weekend about shutting himself down in light of it.

There are some in the Knicks organization who have wanted Anthony to shut himself down for weeks, league sources familiar with the team's thinking say.

The specific nature of Anthony's knee injury is unclear.

The Knicks have referred to the injury as soreness. Anthony said it is impacting his tendon and that any surgical procedure would likely sideline him for eight weeks.

According to ESPN medical expert Dr. Mark Adickes, tendon issues are common for long-time NBA players.

"If you were to MRI any veteran NBA player, you are going to find abnormalities of their patella tendon insertion or quad tendon insertion," Adickes said. "The longer you play, the older you are, the more susceptible you are to this injury.

"What happens over time is it's like little micro-tears and chronic inflammations in the quad tendon and the patellar tendon lead to tendonosis," Adickes added. "Tendonosis is just chronic, degenerative change of that tendon."

Adickes hasn't examined Anthony and isn't privy to any of the medical reports on his knee. But he said there are several ways to repair tendon issues.

One avenue for repair -- the more conservative approach -- would be to use a platelet-rich plasma therapy treatment.

PRP places a patient's blood in a centrifuge and spins it to separate the platelet-rich plasma, which is then injected back into the injured tissue. It is generally used for long-term treatment, and Adickes recommends that an athlete sit for at least two weeks following PRP treatment.

Anthony, a 12-year NBA veteran, says he is likely to be out for eight weeks following his procedure.

That would mean it seems unlikely that he's referring to PRP.

Another option, according to Adickes, is a partial repair of the patellar or quad tendon along with a debridement, which is a removing of the chronic, inflammatory tissue.

This procedure has a recommended rehab timetable of 2-3 months.

"It takes some time," Adickes said.

The good news for Knicks fans is that these injuries are common and the procedures to repair them are not overly complex, Adickes says.

So it's fair to assume that Anthony won't face many hurdles to return to the court, if and when he does have surgery.

Leading development in Melo's Knicks role

January, 29, 2015
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NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks have won four of five, and some people are confused.

Are they tanking for a top pick in June’s draft?

Are they trying to make a run at the 8th seed in the East?

(You can stop laughing now.)

We’ll get answers to those questions in the coming weeks and months.

For now, a more pertinent question is this: are we watching Carmelo Anthony develop into a leader?

According to Derek Fisher, that’s exactly what’s happening.

“I think Carmelo is continuing to find out more and more how capable he really is. Not just statistically leading his team, but emotionally, psychologically, guys are following him,” Fisher said after the Knicks won for the fourth time in five games with a 100-92 win.

Anthony sat out for two weeks earlier this month to rest his injured left knee. Since his return, the Knicks have won four of the five games he’s played in.

During his absence, New York lost six in a row amid a 16-game losing streak.

“He’s setting a tone out there,” Fisher said of Anthony. “He’s playing defense. He’s doing a lot of things that are forcing guys to get to his level.”

If Fisher’s assessment is accurate, this could be a significant development for the Knicks.

In the past, Carmelo has at times been at his best when surrounded by veteran leadership (Chauncey Billups in Detroit and in his first season in New York; Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby with the 2012-13 Knicks).

But now that Anthony is under contract for five more years, it’s logical for the Knicks to turn to him to lead in the locker room.

J.R. Smith recently made an interesting observation about Anthony’s leadership style when compared to that of LeBron James.

“[Anthony] is more of an ‘I’ll show you,’ as opposed to Bron is more of an ‘I’ll tell you, then I’ll show you,” Smith told reporters in Cleveland.

Anthony has talked about his approach to leadership in the past.

“For me, it’s letting everyone know what the deal is," Anthony said in October 2013. “If I see something that’s wrong, I try to correct it as a unit. If I see something right, I give a pat on the back and keep moving.”

Knicks to sign Thomas for rest of season: The Knicks will sign Lance Thomas to a contact for the rest of the season, league sources told ESPN New York.

Thomas, who was on his second 10-day contract, had 17 points on 8-for-13 shooting and grabbed five rebounds in the Knicks’ win over Oklahoma City.

He’s scored in double figures in three straight games.

After the game, Fisher said it was “very important” for the team to re-sign Thomas and Lou Amundson. Amundson’s second 10-day contract is set to expire Thursday.

The Knicks have to either sign him for the rest of the season or let him test free agency.

Hardaway Jr. motivated by slight: Tim Hardaway Jr. had 14 second-half points to help the Knicks hold off Russell Westbrook (40 points) and earn a win over the Thunder.

Afterward, Hardaway Jr. was asked if he was motivated by being left out of the Rookie-Sophomore Game this season. Hardaway Jr. played in the game last season.

“It’s obviously motivation but you have to just go out there and compete,” Hardaway Jr. said. “I think the assistant coaches or whatever they pick the team so it is what it is and I’m going to keep playing the game I play.”

The format for the Rookie-Sophomore game is new this season. It is a team of American players in their first and second seasons against International players.

Assistant coaches voted on the teams.

A year ago today, Carmelo scored 62 points

January, 24, 2015
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videoNEW YORK -- His Knicks team has the worst record in the Eastern Conference, an unimaginable 28 games below .500. And they needed to win three straight games just to get to that mark.

So no, this probably isn’t the way Carmelo Anthony expected to spend the one-year anniversary of one of the best games of his career.

Twelve months ago to the day, Carmelo scored a franchise-record 62 points in a win over the then-Charlotte Bobcats.

“It’s been a year. I can’t believe it’s been a year already since that time,” Anthony said late Friday night.

Not much has gone as planned for Anthony or the Knicks since that date.

They missed the playoffs last season for the first time since trading for Anthony. This year, after re-signing him to a five-year, $124 million contract, the Knicks have been a colossal disappointment.

They’ve endured losing streaks of 10 and 16 games and are on pace to win just 15 games -- which would be a franchise low.

And Anthony has played through soreness in his left knee for most of the season. He thinks he’ll eventually need surgery to repair the injury.

So it’s understandable that the 62-point anniversary wasn’t the first thing on his mind late Friday night.

“I could give a damn about 62 right now. But four, the number four does sound good,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ win over Orlando.

Four is a reference to the four-game winning streak the Knicks would put together with a victory over Charlotte on Saturday night. That would be a season high.

“It’s been a good feeling these last couple of days,” Anthony said.

Good feelings, of course, have been in short supply for the Knicks.

There are several factors behind New York's struggles this year.

One issue seems to be a lack of easy baskets in the triangle offense.

A league-high 26.3 percent of the Knicks' points come from mid-range field goals, according to ESPN Stats & Information’s Steve Martinez. For comparison's sake, New York was tied for 18th in that category when it made the playoffs in 2012-13 (17.6 percent).

Offense, obviously, isn’t the only issue for the Knicks this season.

They have the second-worst defensive rating in the NBA and they rank 26th in rebounding rate.
Now, with the team out of contention, fans have begun to turn their attention to the draft lottery.

This is where the team's poor record will be a benefit.

ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives the Knicks a 91.3 percent chance at landing a top-five pick, something they haven’t had since 1986.

New York also hopes to be active in free agency this summer.

With just four players under contract for 2015-16, the club is projected to have nearly $30 million in cap space in the offseason.

But that’s a little more than five months away.

In between now and then, there probably won’t be much to celebrate.

On Saturday, at least Anthony can reminisce about 62.

Barkley balks at Melo as All-Star starter

January, 22, 2015
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New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony was voted in as a starter on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. In a development that will surprise no one, Charles Barkley has a problem with that.

Barkley, a noted Knicks agitator, said on Thursday night that Anthony doesn't deserve to start the All-Star Game because the Knicks have struggled so mightily this season.

[+] EnlargeCarmelo Anthony
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY SportsCarmelo Anthony has the fourth-highest scoring average (21.1 points) in All-Star history.
New York (7-36) has the worst record in the NBA.

"I do have a problem with that," Barkley said on TNT. "I just don't understand. ... If I'm a fan, you have to be honest and realistic."

Anthony edged Washington's Marcin Gortat (647,005 votes to 570,005) for the third and final spot among frontcourt players in the East. He said in a statement posted on the team's website that he is honored to represent New York at Madison Square Garden, which will host the game on Feb. 15.

"For me to be the face of New York, representing New York during All-Star Weekend is a special moment you really can't put into words," Anthony said.

This is Anthony's eighth All-Star appearance. He has the fourth-highest scoring average (21.1 points) in All-Star history, shooting 54 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent behind the arc. Anthony is the 10th player to earn four All-Star selections with two different teams (Denver, New York).

Last year, he scored 30 points, including a record eight 3-pointers in New Orleans.

In 24 games this season, Anthony is scoring 24 points per game on 45 percent shooting to go along with 6.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

Anthony recently sat out six games to rest his injured left knee. But he has played the past three games following the two-week rest, leading the Knicks to two straight wins this week.

It is unclear how much longer Anthony will be on the floor this season, though. He has said that he will eventually need surgery to repair the knee injury.

There is speculation -- unfounded, so far -- that Anthony will have surgery shortly after the All-Star Game.

This isn't the first time this season that Barkley has been critical of the Knicks.

Last month, Barkley and team president Phil Jackson got into a a war of words over Barkley's critique of the triangle offense.

Question: Do you agree with Barkely? Or do you think Carmelo deserves a spot in the starting lineup?

Melo: J.R. playing with 'clarity' for Cavs

January, 21, 2015
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PHILADELPHIA -- J.R. Smith looks like a new man since leaving the Knicks.

Smith’s increased his per-game scoring (plus-6.1 points per game) and 3-point field goal percentage (plus-7 percent) since he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 5.

It's a small sample size, but Carmelo Anthony has noticed.

“He’s playing well,” Anthony said Wednesday morning.

“I know what type of game he has and what he can do, so he looks comfortable out there, he looks like he’s settling in very well. I’m actually happy for him.

"It’s a change of environment for him, new thought process, new mind set. Mentally he looks like he has some clarity right now. I believe LeBron [James] will help him make that adjustment that much better.”

Smith said earlier this month that he felt like some Knicks were “walking on egg shells” this season because the players were adapting to a new system and playing under new leadership. Smith, the 2012-13 Sixth Man Award winner, never appeared comfortable in the triangle offense.

"It’s almost too much thinking,” he said, according to the New York Post.

Anthony understands why his friend feels that way.

“I heard him say that before in just conversations that we’d have,” Anthony said. “I think any time something is new, something trying to be incorporated, everybody is trying to do the right things, so it can be a tense situation and you can feel like you’re walking on eggshells. You don’t want to do the wrong thing, you want to impress the coaches, you want to impress the front office, you want to impress your teammates and try to do the right thing. So if that’s where he’s coming from, from that standpoint, I agree with him."

Phil Jackson pulled the plug on the season when he traded Smith and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland in exchange for a second-round pick in 2019 and two trade exceptions.

Instead of competing for a playoff spot, the Knicks are now hoping to land a high pick in the draft and sign quality free agents this summer.

Melo unsure of back-to-backs: Anthony said his bothersome left knee felt good and he plans to play in Wednesday’s game against Philadelphia. But he is unsure if he will play in a back-to-back set, which New York plays on Friday and Saturday.

Anthony has played in the Knicks’ last two games after missing six in a row to rest his knee.

“I think the most important thing is just a matter of how much work I’ve been able to put in with my overall body these two weeks," Anthony said. "So that’s kind of what’s getting me through right now, not having to compensate my knee, and everything else is feeling good."

Langston Galloway is expected to start against the Sixers, while Cleanthony Early (right ankle) is unlikely to play. Andrea Bargnani (calf) is out.

Carmelo Anthony meets Prince Harry, invites him to Knicks game

January, 14, 2015
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Carmelo Anthony, Prince HarryNathaniel S. Butler/Getty ImagesCarmelo Anthony joined Prince Harry to present the first batch of graduates from Coach Core, a program sponsored by the British royalty to help youth pursue careers in coaching and mentoring.
LONDON -– Last month, LeBron James caused a minor stir when breaching some traditional etiquette when meeting Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge in Brooklyn when the future king and queen of the United Kingdom came to see the Nets face the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Carmelo Anthony, however, breezed through his royal hookup Wednesday when hanging with William’s younger brother, Prince Harry, at a reception at St. James’s Palace.

Invited to help present awards for a coaching program sponsored through a partnership between the NBA and the Royal Foundation, the Knicks forward presented the fourth-in-line to the British throne with a size 15 shoe and a Knicks jersey with Harry’s official surname, Wales, emblazoned on the back.

For once, Melo confessed to being a little starstruck over his encounter with the man considered to be among Europe’s most eligible bachelors, even though they shared a few laughs during the ceremony.

“It was an honor,” said Anthony. “You just don’t know what to expect. For me, walking into the room together, and the kids just laughing and joking, and he’s laughing and joking, just a warm welcome from him to me, it was an honor.

“I never thought I would meet a prince. It’s royalty. You can feel it when you come over. So for me to come over and be right there, you feel that energy, that vibe. You get that royal feeling.”

His Royal Highness did get a personal invite to Thursday’s Knicks-Bucks game at the nearby O2 Arena. The 30-year-old prince, despite having the necessary fan apparel, has not yet decided if he will take up a reserved courtside seat.

“He said he wants to,” Anthony said. “He would try. But I understand he’s a busy man.”

Melo defends inaction in Acy-Wall scuffle

December, 26, 2014
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NEW YORK -- As Quincy Acy and John Wall got into a heated exchange on Christmas Day, a handful of Wizards jumped in to break things up and pull the players apart.

Acy’s Knicks teammates weren’t as quick to get involved.

This was pointed out on social media in the aftermath of the incident.

Some concluded that this was a sign of the Knicks having poor team chemistry. Others said the Knicks were right to avoid escalating the situation.

After the game, Carmelo Anthony was asked why some of the Knicks didn’t get involved in the Wall/Acy skirmish quickly, as the Wizards did.

“You can’t do that now,” said Anthony, who tried to calm Acy down in the aftermath of the incident. “Guys on the bench can’t do that, they can’t move. I saw our coaches holding them back. I saw the guys on the court, anytime you’re running to a large group of people, something can happen. I wasn’t going to allow myself to run up to a group of people in the circle and now something happens to me, now I’ve got to worry about what I might do or what I’m capable of doing. I’d rather just get Quincy out of there and walk away from it while they’re trying to figure out what’s going on.”

Anthony is no stranger to altercations at Madison Square Garden. As a member of the Denver Nuggets in 2006, he was involved in a brawl with the Knicks that resulted in Anthony being suspended for 15 games for throwing a punch.

Acy was suspended one game for his role in the incident and will miss Saturday’s game against the Sacramento Kings. Wall was fined $15,000.

The Knicks fell to 5-26 with the loss -- the worst 31-game record in franchise history.

Question: What do you think about the Knicks not getting involved to break up the Wall-Acy skirmish? Were the smart not to get involved or was this a sign of poor team chemistry?

What more can Melo do for the Knicks?

December, 23, 2014
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NEW YORK -- Let’s make one thing clear: Carmelo Anthony is not the sole reason the Knicks are 5-25. If you’re making a list ranking the factors behind the awful start to this Knicks season, Anthony’s play wouldn’t crack the top 10.

Start with New York being last in the NBA in free throw attempts per game. That's certainly more crippling than anything Carmelo is or isn’t doing. As is the Knicks’ porous 3-point defense (they allow opponents to hit a league-high 38.9 percent of their 3s).

Injuries to rotation players such as J.R. Smith, Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani haven’t helped. Neither has the team’s failure to create easy baskets at the rim (the Knicks rank last in points created off of drives, per NBA.com). The Knicks' inability to consistently get stops (they’re 27th in defensive rating) hasn't helped either.

There are also locker room issues. ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard reported earlier this month that some players have been reluctant to embrace the triangle. That’s not exactly the Zen approach that team president Phil Jackson has preached.

So Carmelo may not be playing his best basketball, but he’s not the only reason the Knicks are off to the worst 30-game start in franchise history.

In fact, Anthony seems to be doing all he can on offense to help keep New York in games.

With Anthony on the floor, the Knicks are scoring 107.4 points per 100 possessions. That would be the sixth-highest rate in the league. With Anthony off the floor, the Knicks’ scoring drops to 98.2 points per 100 possessions. That would rank as the fourth-lowest rate in the NBA.

Carmelo’s per-game scoring (23.7) is the lowest it’s been in seven seasons, but he’s been fairly efficient on offense.

His field goal percentage (45.8 percent) is the third highest of his career. Anthony is also attempting two fewer shots per game this season than the number he’d averaged over the previous two seasons.

“You can’t complain much about what he’s done on offense,” a veteran Eastern Conference scout said.

But what about the other areas of the game? Is Anthony doing all that Derek Fisher and the rest of the Knicks staff have asked of him? With New York already 20 games under .500, is Anthony doing all he can to help dig the team out of this mess?

“I always feel like I can do more, do better. I mean, that’s just the way I think,” Anthony said recently. “The way my mind works, if we’re in the basketball game by a couple of points, I always feel like I look back at the games, and man, I can do something better.”

So what, exactly, does Anthony need to do to help the Knicks wake up from this nightmare?

Team president Phil Jackson may have the answer to that one.

“I’d like to see him flesh out the rest of his game,” Jackson said earlier this month. “He’s been getting some assists. He’s been getting some rebounds. But every opportunity to offensive rebound, which is one of his strengths, I’d like to see him continue to [pursue].

"I’d like to see him continue to be aggressive defensively -- a leader at that end of the floor too.”

Jackson explained that the triangle offense oftentimes requires Anthony to be in position to grab offensive rebounds.

[+] EnlargeCarmelo Anthony
David Richard/USA TODAY SportsCan Melo point the way toward the Knicks' improvement?
“It’s a simple role, [like] a pulling guard has to do in football or somebody has to set a block in a game,” Jackson said. “There is a rebounding responsibility and you have to go there.

A quick look at the numbers from this season shows that Anthony hasn’t exactly thrived on the offensive glass.

His offensive rebounding rate – an estimate of the available offensive rebounds he gets – is 6.0 this season. That’s right near Anthony’s career average – but it doesn’t put him in great company.

Carmelo ranks 38th in offensive rebounding rate among players who average at least 25 minutes per game and have played at least 20 games this season.

“He’s got good size, good strength, he could be a better offensive rebounder at times,” the scout says. “It’s just a matter of having the desire, putting yourself in position to battle for the opportunity. Whether he’s fighting fatigue or whatever, he’s got to have the desire.”

Desire may be an issue for Anthony on defense as well.

Jackson hinted on two occasions that he needs to see more from Anthony on that end of the floor, in part to motivate his teammates.

“There’s a certain amount of energy that players can give on the court, activity level, that I think is really required to lead a team,” he said in November.

The numbers show that Anthony can be a bit more active on defense, to say the least.

His defensive real-plus minus rating, which measures a player's impact on team defense via points allowed per 100 defensive possessions, isn’t pretty.

Carmelo ranks 78th out of 80 small forwards in this area with a rating of -2.26. That puts him just below Doug McDermott and Jabari Parker and just ahead of Chris Copeland.

Not great company. (For those wondering, Carmelo’s -2.26 would rank 96th out of 100 power forwards who have qualified for the statistic.)

“In fairness to him, I think it’s kind of tough,” another longtime Eastern Conference scout said. “They ask him to carry such a load on the offensive end and they ask him to play 40 minutes on some nights. It’s tough for him to really excel on the defensive end when you’re playing that many minutes and you’re trying to carry such a big scoring load.”

Fatigue indeed may be an issue for Anthony.

Late in close games, with Carmelo on the floor, the Knicks have suffered through defensive lapses that ended up costing them victories.

New York has played in a league-high 19 games that were separated by five points or fewer with five minutes to play. The team is just 3-16 in those games.

There are issues on both sides of the floor, but the defense has been atrocious late in close games. Entering play Tuesday, the Knicks were allowing 119.6 points per 100 possessions in clutch situations -- the worst defensive rating in the NBA.

Of course, there are five players on the floor at all times. So it's unfair to point the finger at one player for a team's defensive lapses. But it’s clear that Carmelo has the physical ability to do more to help the Knicks get stops late in games.

Some wonder, though, if it’s too late for the 30-year-old to change his approach to defense.

“Is he ever going to be a lock-down defender? I just don’t think it’s in his DNA,” the longtime scout says of Anthony. “He has the focus to score the basketball, that’s his desire. But is his desire to do the little things on defense, to rotate, block out his guy, stick with a cutter? It doesn’t seem like it.”

Later, he adds: “It’s going to be tough to change a player at this point.”

With that last thought, the scout brings up one of the greatest challenges of Jackson’s presidency: improving Carmelo.

Jackson said back in October that Anthony has “just touched the surface of his greatness.”

But can the Zen Master, who is being paid in the neighborhood of $60 million to rebuild the Knicks, drastically change Anthony’s approach? Anthony is in his 12th season in the NBA. Are we at the point where his bad habits are irreversible?

“I’m not sure,” the scout says. “But I think what you see is what you’re going to get at this point.”

It’s on Anthony -- and Jackson -- to prove that perception wrong.
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NEW YORK -- Here's how bad things are getting for the New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony is starting to question whether his team has the confidence to compete on an NBA floor.

"We gotta want to win. We gotta believe that we can win basketball games," Anthony said when asked about what has to change for his 5-22 team. "It seems that when we don't get off to a good start and we climb uphill, battle, or if the game is close, we don't have that confidence that we can win the basketball game. We're worrying about not losing the game so much that we kind of lose focus on believing and having the faith that we can win the basketball game."

[+] EnlargeMelo
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty ImagesCarmelo Anthony says the Knicks' 5-22 start "doesn't sit well" with him.
The Knicks probably lost faith early on Tuesday night. The Mavericks hit 10 of their first 11 shots and were up by 12 halfway through the first quarter en route to a 107-87 win in Tyson Chandler's return to Madison Square Garden.

Derek Fisher pulled his starters with 5:20 to play in the first quarter and the Knicks down 15. In a rare public display of criticism, Fisher ripped his starters after the game for a lack of effort.

"I thought the start was not the right way to start a professional basketball game," said Fisher, who has been mostly careful not to criticize his players in public. "Those guys that were in there to start the game, that was a disappointment to their teammates more than anything. Guys that start the game have to mentally and physically be ready to play, and they couldn't put that out there."

Finding the right starting lineup has been a challenge all season long for Fisher.

Partly due to injuries, and partly because he's struggled to find the right combinations, Fisher has played 13 starting lineups in 27 games.

The fluctuating starting lineup is only one reason why the Knicks find themselves at 17 games under .500 at this point.

They have dropped 12 of 13 and are off to the worst start in franchise history through 27 games.

New York will wake up on Wednesday with as many losses as the Philadelphia 76ers. Not even Phil Jackson's wildest detractor could have dreamed up this start.

Carmelo has said that he didn't have any expectations coming into this season. But he certainly didn't expect this.

"It don't sit well," Anthony said of the Knicks' awful start. "If I sat here and said everything sits well with me then you should question me. But it don't sit well with me. Losing the way we're losing doesn't sit well. I don't like this feeling. What are we going to do about it right now? We got a lot more games to play."

At this point in the season, it just feels like the Knicks have a lot more games to lose.

Question: What do you think Derek Fisher can do to turn the season around for the Knicks?

Melo: Tyson deserves cheers in MSG return

December, 15, 2014
12/15/14
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Anthony/ChandlerGetty ImagesIn Melo's mind, booing big man Tyson Chandler in his Tuesday MSG return wouldn't make much sense.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- Tyson Chandler returns to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, and Carmelo Anthony said the former Knicks center deserves a warm reception.

“I hope they cheer for him,” Anthony said about when the Mavericks visit the Knicks. “He was a guy who came in and won Defensive Player of the Year here. He was a big part to what we were trying to create here and what we did at one point in time."

“I don’t think they need to boo him or anything,” Anthony continued. “The only reason you boo him [is] because he’s on another team. If you want to do that, then you should boo everybody that’s on another team. I don’t think you should boo him because he left the New York Knicks.”

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What might be more interesting is to see how Knicks fans feel after Tuesday night’s game. The last time Chandler played the Knicks, he gave them a harsh reminder of what they traded away, dropping 17 points and a season-high 25 rebounds to go with two blocked shots in a 109-102 win in Dallas.

The 5-21 Knicks sure could use Chandler this season. Without him, the Knicks lack presence inside the paint. Amar'e Stoudemire has probably exceeded expectations this season, but the Knicks desperately need an intimidating big man.

Chandler and Raymond Felton were dealt to Dallas in the offseason in a trade that brought back Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington and two second-round picks. The deal was largely made by Phil Jackson to unload Felton, but it cost them their best defender and rebounder along with Chandler’s expiring contract.

Jackson also said he was trying to improve team chemistry and “start with some character guys” when explaining the trade. Last season, Chandler made some headlines when he questioned Mike Woodson’s defensive schemes.

By the end of a disappointing 37-45 campaign, Chandler seemed ready for a fresh start elsewhere, as he and some of his teammates took their fair share of heat for last season’s struggles.

“That’s the state of our game, man,” Anthony said when asked about how some people made Chandler to be a scapegoat for the Knicks' disappointing season last year.

“That’s what we have to deal with as players. If something ain’t going right, they find somebody to pin it on. In Tyson’s situation, they [critics] said it was him. That’s the nature of our game. There’s always going to be somebody that they point the finger at. In that situation, it was him during that time.”

“I don’t see anything he did wrong,” Anthony added. “I think he did a great job of coming to play when he was here.”

Chandler looked like he had something to prove to the Knicks when they last met, on Nov. 26.

Anthony sat out that game due to back spasms but watched Chandler create havoc against the Knicks.

“I remember him having a hell of a game,” Anthony said. “I was drugged up that day [due to the back pain]. ... Everything was kind of blurry to me. But I watched it, I saw it, how impactful he was during that game, how excited he was to play against us.”

Of course, the Knicks have more things to worry about than what kind of reception Chandler draws in his Garden return. The Knicks just need to win and pull through in a tight game for once.

Stoudemire hopes Chandler’s presence will add buzz to the game.

“I think [Tuesday] is going to be a great game for us and also for Dallas with Tyson being back in New York,” Stoudemire said.

"Tyson gave us some good years, he truly did, he was a true pro,” Stoudemire added. “His defensive methods were great. I think the crowd will give him a cheer because 'once a Knick, you're always a Knick.' He does play for Dallas, and they might not cheer him for all too long."

The System: The Knicks had some success using some pick-and-roll sets during Sunday’s overtime loss to Toronto. Anthony, though, believes the Knicks are getting better at the triangle.

“I don’t want to keep talking about the system,” Anthony said when asked if learning the triangle is still an issue. “The system is just a foundation of what we are trying to run on the offensive end. It is just a matter of what we do in that system.

“Yesterday we did some things that didn’t involve the actual system, and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t,” Anthony added. “I do think we are getting better at learning the actual system and learning the counters to the system. Now we got to start believing in it more and becoming more comfortable day by day.”

Injury report: The Knicks practiced on Monday but had several players sit out. Anthony (recovery), Larkin (illness), J.R. Smith (left plantar fascia), Pablo Prigioni (sore ankle), Iman Shumpert (left shoulder) and Stoudemire (recovery) all did not practice.

Should the Knicks shut Carmelo down?

December, 13, 2014
12/13/14
2:41
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BOSTON -- Unless he decides to take an extended rest or undergo surgery, it sounds like Carmelo Anthony will be playing at less than 100 percent for the rest of the season.

Anthony has had soreness in his left knee since the second game. His daily status basically depends on how his knee feels that day.

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“I’ll get out every day, try to do some stuff, try to see how it feels, and then if it gets to a point where I just can’t do it then I’ll consider kind of sitting out maybe a week or two weeks or something like that,” Anthony said Friday morning. “But at this point it’s just a matter of taking it day by day and seeing what happens and seeing how I react after games.”

Anthony suited up Friday in Boston and scored 22 points in 39 minutes to help the Knicks win 101-95 and snap a 10-game losing streak.

His status for Sunday’s game against Toronto depends largely on how his knee feels Sunday afternoon.

“Some days it’s going to be [healthy enough to play] and some days it’s going to be tough,” Anthony said late Friday night.

The veteran forward’s lingering knee injury presents an interesting choice for the Knicks: Should they force the superstar to sit out? Should they ask that he have surgery? Or should they let him continue to play on a knee that is less than 100 percent healthy?

Anthony has said that he considers knee surgery a last resort. But given that he is in the first year of a five-year, $124 million contract -- and the Knicks are 5-20 -- maybe the prudent move would be for Anthony go under the knife.

"I'm not even looking forward to even discussing the surgery or anything like that," he said earlier this week. "I'll explore as many other options as I can before I go under the knife and get surgery. We really don't know exactly what's the problem."

One aspect the Knicks have to be wary of is Anthony’s workload. He is coming off of a season in which he averaged a league-high 38.7 minutes per
game.

Anthony, a 12-year veteran, already has amassed a significant number of minutes in his career.

Of the players selected in Anthony’s draft class, only LeBron James (34,074) has played more regular-season minutes than Anthony (29,626).

Coach Derek Fisher has said he’d like to play Anthony fewer minutes, and given the state of Anthony’s knee, he’d be wise to follow through with that plan.

So far, Anthony has averaged three fewer minutes per game this season than last. But he has played at least 39 minutes in six of his past nine games.

The Knicks’ upcoming schedule doesn’t help, with five games in eight days.

“Having to get after it through practice, then a game and practice, that’s the tough part,” Anthony said.

The Knicks' medical staff has told Anthony that his knee can’t get any worse if he plays -- but it also can’t improve. The injury affects Anthony’s impact on offense.

“I can pretty much do everything, it’s just what I don’t have -- the bounce, have my balance, have any power -- to kind of have that quick first step and to be able to go off one leg,” Anthony said. “The balance, the push-off, some days is very limited.”

The Knicks are 15 games under .500. Their $124 million man is limited. Is it time for the team to shut Carmelo Anthony down?

Carmelo: 'Not gonna panic' about start

December, 1, 2014
12/01/14
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Carmelo Anthony isn't hitting the panic button yet with the New York Knicks.

The Knicks need a win badly against the crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday after dropping 13 of their past 15 games. But Anthony chooses to remain patient and optimistic.

[+] EnlargeCarmelo Anthony
Adam Hunger/USA TODAY SportsThe Knicks have lost 13 of their past 15 games, but Carmelo Anthony says he remains optimistic about turning things around.
"That comes down to us as individuals whether we panic or not," Anthony said. "Me being one of the leaders of this team, I'm not gonna panic, so none of my teammates are gonna panic.

"Every day is a new day. And tomorrow we got another opportunity to try to turn this thing around."

The Knicks and Nets meet for the second time this season, with both teams struggling at the moment. They are each trying to adjust to a new coach and system. While the Knicks' season is slipping away, Brooklyn has lost seven of its past nine games.

Right now, a win means more to each team than any rivalry bragging rights.

"It did at one point," Anthony said when asked if the Knicks-Nets rivalry will ever matter. "But it will. This is New York. At the end of the day, we still have something to prove. They feel like they have something to prove, and we want to win."

The Knicks (4-14) and Nets (6-9) both can use a feel-good victory more than anything. And if their past five meetings are any indication, one team will walk away Tuesday night feeling pretty good.

In the past five encounters between the Knicks and Nets, the winning team has won by an average of 20.8 points. The Nets took the first meeting this season, 110-99, at Brooklyn last month.

Anthony has been trying not to let negativity sink into the Knicks' locker room with each loss.

"It's a challenging mindset," Anthony said of not letting the team become accustomed to losing. "I think anytime you're losing basketball games, negativity, lack of confidence can start to seep in.

"But that's something I don't want to deal with, we shouldn't have to deal with."

Anthony says "sometimes it only takes one" win to turn things around. The Knicks are hoping the Nets will bring out the best in them.

"We always are ready to go when we play Brooklyn," said Amar'e Stoudemire. "So hopefully that sparks [what] we need to help us get over the hump."

Knicks' health: Anthony said he felt normal "soreness" but that his back was feeling good after playing 41 minutes Sunday night against Miami.

However, J.R. Smith was not feeling better after playing only six minutes against Miami.

Head coach Derek Fisher said Smith came to see the medical staff at practice and then was sent home to rest with flu-like symptoms. Fisher hopes Smith feels better Tuesday, but his status is uncertain for the Nets game.

Knicks shouldn't rush Melo return

November, 28, 2014
11/28/14
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If the New York Knicks aren't careful with Carmelo Anthony's back spasms, they could put their star at risk for further back issues later in the season, according to one sports medicine expert.

"He can wind up battling this all season if it's not shut down appropriately to let him heal up," says Dr. Neil Roth, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and the tending physician at Lenox Hill Hospital.

Anthony first felt back spasms late in the first half of Monday's game against the Houston Rockets. He missed Wednesday's game against the Dallas Mavericks and is doubtful for Friday's tilt against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Knicks coach Derek Fisher told reporters on Friday that Anthony is progressing well and he has not been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Miami Heat.

Roth, who has not examined Anthony's injury, says lower back issues are common among NBA players.

"I would bet that the majority of NBA players, if you took x-rays of their lower back and MRIs of their lower back, have some element of degenerative back issues," Roth says.

Anthony's back issues appear to be minor. According to reports, he participated in shooting drills before Friday's loss to Oklahoma City. He said that the spasms are a muscle issue and not related to any disc ailment.

This is significant because Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire dealt with spasms that were a result of disc irritation in 2011. They first flared up during the playoffs. Stoudemire missed most of one game and all of another but returned to appear in the Knicks' playoff game that season. He played through significant pain to do so. The issue resurfaced for Stoudemire in March of the subsequent season and the power forward was shut down for six weeks.

"Back spasms is nothing easy to deal with," Stoudemire said earlier this week. "Your whole body shuts down, it affects your central nervous system. It affects your entire body."

The fact that Anthony's spasms are the result of a muscle issue -- and not a disc issue -- should lead to a quicker recovery.

"If it's just a lower back muscular spasm, once the nerve calms down and the muscle calms down, you can recover and go back to your activity again," Roth says.

Anthony's status is uncertain for Sunday's game against the Miami Heat. They are 0-2 without him.


Question: What is your level of concern regarding Carmelo Anthony's back at this point?


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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
24.2 3.1 1.0 35.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsC. Anthony 6.6
AssistsJ. Calderon 4.7
StealsS. Larkin 1.3
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.3