New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony

Melo on the 5-26 Knicks: 'We're dying'

December, 25, 2014
Dec 25
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NEW YORK -- There’s a New York Knicks fan out there who lives and dies with the team, a fan who's been doing much more dying than living with this group.

Carmelo Anthony has a message for that fan.

“I feel what the fans are feeling,” Anthony said after the Knicks fell to 5-26 following a Christmas Day loss to the Wizards.

[+] EnlargeCarmelo Anthony
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesCarmelo Anthony put up a game-high 34 points on Christmas Day. But it wasn't enough.
"The fans are dying, we’re dying. We’re out there, we’re not producing. We didn’t expect, I didn’t expect to be sitting at 5-26," he said. "So as much as I feel for the fans, I feel for us going through it, too. I don’t expect nobody to feel sorry for us, I don’t expect nobody to feel sorry for me."

The ones to feel sorry for here are the fans who pay attention to this team. They’re investing time (and money) in a team that has lost 16 of 17 games. A team that has had separate losing streaks of six and 10 games. A team that has set a franchise record for consecutive home losses (eight) in a single season.

Even Anthony seems fed up with the inconsistency.

“We have spurts throughout the course of the game where we are showing something, showing that we’re getting it and we’re focused and we have the energy to go out and do it,” Anthony said. “But there are times where we show that we’re not even out there on the basketball court. ... We gotta start trying to put a whole game together.”

That certainly didn’t happen Christmas Day.

The Wizards jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the first quarter by hitting their first four shots. They had 34 points -- and an 11-point lead -- by the end of the quarter.

The Knicks trailed by as many as 22 and never seriously threatened Washington in the game -- except when Quincy Acy went after John Wall with 5:31 to play. That was the only time this Knicks team showed much fight.

“There are times throughout the course of the game where it seems like we’re making strides and getting better,” Anthony said. “And then there are times where it feels like we’re not.”

Not exactly what Knicks fans want to hear about a team that Anthony and president Phil Jackson thought had enough talent to make the playoffs when the season started.

Instead, the Knicks have the most losses in the NBA and are nine games back of eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

Jackson tried to give Knicks fans a reason to be optimistic when he tweeted on Christmas Eve that 2015 would be better than 2014.

Anthony said Thursday he hadn’t seen the tweet because he doesn’t spend much time on Twitter these days.

But he rightfully pointed out that Jackson doesn’t have much time between now and next year to make things better.

“2015 is in a couple of days,” he said.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Knicks hope Christmas brings out their best

December, 24, 2014
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NEW YORK -- The Knicks got a rare opportunity to practice at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Players seemed upbeat and loose during the Christmas Eve practice in the city, and that’s a good thing since the Knicks haven’t had many reasons to smile this season.

“I think you saw a couple of minutes of what we were doing out there,” Anthony said after shooting around long after practice. “It feels like it’s Christmas. There’s no need to be uptight and upset at this point.”

The Knicks (5-25) kick off Christmas Day with their home game against the Washington Wizards (19-8). They’ve been able to get away from basketball a bit and try to recharge physically and mentally since losing their fifth game in a row in Toronto on Sunday.

The Knicks will get a boost with Amar’e Stoudemire’s return to action after sitting out the previous two games to rest his knees. Stoudemire practiced on Wednesday and said he is ready to go against the Wizards.

J.R. Smith (plantar fascia) also participated in practice, but the shooting guard doubts he will play.

“Felt good until I started trying to plant, wasn’t 100 percent,” Smith said. “Still can’t really move the way I want to but overall I felt good.”

Asked if he will play on Christmas, he said, “We’ll see how the treatment (and the foot after) reacts. If it swells up. ... As of right now it’s a no.”

Even though the Knicks have won only five times in their first 30 games, Anthony feels the season isn’t lost yet.

“The way I look at it, it’s December,” Anthony said. “We still have a long season to go but we have to start stringing some games together. We can still say it’s still early in the season and we still have (52) games left but if we don’t start stringing some games together, then the season will be longer and longer.”

Anthony hopes Christmas Day will bring out the best in the Knicks.

“If you don’t have the motivation to come out here and play on Christmas here at the Garden, to kick Christmas off in the first game, then I don’t know what motivates (you),” Anthony said.

What more can Melo do for the Knicks?

December, 23, 2014
Dec 23
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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.

Melo: Tyson deserves cheers in MSG return

December, 15, 2014
Dec 15
6:00
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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.

Melo: We're beating ourselves

December, 15, 2014
Dec 15
12:41
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NEW YORK –- The New York Knicks found themselves in yet another close game with numerous opportunities to take the win.

And yet again, the Knicks squandered those precious opportunities. This time, they missed seven of eight shots in overtime to drop a 95-90 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

The Knicks (5-21) came close to upsetting the top team in the Eastern Conference, but in the end, Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks came away with yet another frustrating loss.

“All of these opportunities we’re missing, we’re letting slip out of our hands,” Anthony said. “It’s right there. I really don’t think Toronto did anything special tonight. I think it was more on us and what we didn’t do rather than what they did.”

“It’s been happening, these close games that we’re losing,” Anthony added. “The teams are not beating us. We’re kind of beating ourselves.”

[+] EnlargeFisher
Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY SportsCarmelo Anthony went scoreless in overtime after he poured in 34 points in regulation.
Anthony is trying his best to remain positive and optimistic. But it’s easy to see how Anthony has to shoulder the load and try to win it for the Knicks at the end of these close losses.

On a night when J.R. Smith (heel) was a late scratch, Anthony scored 34 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Three other Knicks –- Tim Hardaway Jr., Jose Calderon and Amar'e Stoudemire –- also scored in double figures. But Hardaway was the only Knick to make a field goal in overtime, and he struggled through a 4-for-15 shooting night.

The Knicks did have success using some pick and roll, but the game came down to a handful of critical possessions, and they couldn’t score on chances to take control of the game.

Anthony tied the game twice near the end of regulation to force overtime, but then missed all three of his shots in the extra session and failed to score in the last five minutes of the game.

The Knicks tied the game at 84-84 with 2:54 left in the fourth on an Anthony 3-pointer.

Later down two, the Knicks’ franchise player missed two 19-footers before tying the game again with a driving layup past Patrick Patterson with 28.7 seconds left in regulation.

The Knicks survived two missed shots by Toronto to go to overtime.

But in overtime, Hardaway was the only Knick to make a basket -- and that came with 5.2 seconds left and the game already out of reach.

“They put a bigger guy on me,” Anthony said. “They denied a lot of the things we was able to run throughout the course of the game, kind of packed the paint. They applied a little bit more pressure than they had and kind of got us playing a little faster.”

It was another blown opportunity for the Knicks to take a close game. This was the 10th time they have lost by five points or less this season.

While the Knicks scored on some pick-and-roll sets, head coach Derek Fisher said the team got away from executing in overtime.

“We have several things that we do to start possessions that still are inside of our offense,” Fisher said. “So we’ve just continued to add things as we’ve gone along, as the guys have gotten more comfortable with our basic stuff.

“The struggle is once you’ve opened that box, it’s hard to get guys back inside of executing some of our basic things,” Fisher continued. “That’s really what cost us in the overtime. Some of our entry type of action worked to get us into the game, but we didn’t get back to our basic stuff in overtime.”

Fisher won't waver despite first major crisis

December, 11, 2014
Dec 11
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Derek Fisher has the first major crisis of his coaching career on his hands.

The Knicks are 4-20. They’ve dropped 10 straight games. Team president Phil Jackson sees too much of a loser's mentality infecting his team. There’s injuries and in-house bickering between some players, who are not feeling the triangle according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard.

Frustration is boiling. And Fisher, in his first year as a head coach ever, has to keep everybody calm, keep everybody believing in the triangle and keep everything from falling apart.

[+] EnlargeDerek Fisher
Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY SportsWith his team off to a 4-20 start, Derek Fisher vows to stay the course with the Knicks.
It would be easy, and human nature, for the rookie coach to let doubt creep in and wonder what he got himself into. But Fisher remains steadfast in his commitment to the goal and big picture.

“You can’t waver on becoming successful,” Fisher told reporters on Wednesday. “You’ll never get there if you waver or give up. That’s what we have to expect as a group.”

“Losing affects everybody,” Fisher added. “But you must take something from it and learn something from it if you want it to change. We have to take our lumps and accept what it is at this moment, but not necessarily accept that it’s going to stay that way.”

The Knicks are trying what they can to snap out of this funk. They’ve held a team meeting and have tried to diffuse any strife when asked about it in interviews.

But the only thing that likely can make things better is just winning.

“It's kind of hard to deal with,” Amar’e Stoudemire said. “I’m trying to stay strong, not to let frustration set [in]. To be quite frank, it's not easy at this point. But I don’t know man, we've just got to stay positive.”

Friday night’s game at Boston (7-13) may end up being the Knicks’ best chance for a win in quite some time. After that game, the Knicks’ next six games bring a brutal stretch against Toronto (16-6), Dallas, (17-7) at Chicago (13-8), Phoenix (12-11), at Toronto and against Washington (15-6).

Potentially making matters more difficult on Friday is the physical health of the team. Anthony (sore left knee) and J.R. Smith (heel) did not play on Wednesday at San Antonio and are listed as questionable by the Knicks to play against Boston.

With all that is going on, Fisher has to find a way to keep things together and try to get his team a much-needed win.

“I’ve been in these locker rooms for a long time,” Fisher said when asked if he’s concerned about any discontent in the Knicks’ locker room. “I’ve been on teams where it’s all good, been on teams where it’s not all good at times.

“But the common ground that kind of binds everybody together is just being committed to winning,” Fisher continued. “That kind of evens the playing field for everybody. We’ll all have some issues with things we don’t like. But if you just keep winning on your mind when you’re out there on the floor, it kind of simplifies things.”

Ian Begley contributed to this report

Melo's knee now Knicks' biggest problem

December, 11, 2014
Dec 11
1:14
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SAN ANTONIO -- The New York Knicks are dealing with player infighting and a lengthy losing streak. But their biggest issue right now may be the health of Carmelo Anthony's left knee.

Anthony missed Wednesday night's loss to San Antonio with lingering knee soreness and is out indefinitely. He said the Knicks' medical staff told him his knee condition "won't get any worse, but it won't get any better."

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"It's just a matter of how much pain I can take while I'm out there playing," Anthony said. "Some days are better than others."

When asked if he has considered having surgery, Anthony said any procedure was the "last, last option."

"I'm not even looking forward to even discussing the surgery or anything like that," he said. "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."

Anthony, who missed two games earlier this season due to back spasms, has played through knee pain since the second game of the season.

“I think overall it’s impacting him quite a bit,” head coach Derek Fisher said.

Fisher said he hopes to have Anthony back for Friday’s game against the Boston Celtics, but that is no certainty at this point.

“Most important is his health overall,” Fisher said. “So whatever decision he needs to make to make sure that’s a priority, we support that 100 percent.”

Anthony, who is in the first year of a five-year, $124 million contract, said there are no plans to undergo tests on his knee in the immediate future. The 11-year veteran logged a career-high 38.7 minutes per game last season and is playing 35.7 minutes per game this season.

“I’m going to sit down with the team, with the doctors, just try to figure it out,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting to the bottom of it and seeing what’s the problem.”

Melo appreciates LeBron's Garden surprise

December, 8, 2014
Dec 8
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LeBron JamesNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images"I knew he was in town, I (just) didn't believe he would come," Carmelo Anthony said of LeBron James, who came to the Garden as a spectator on Sunday.
NEW YORK –- LeBron James came to the Garden, sat courtside right across from the Knicks bench and even got a box of popcorn.

Carmelo Anthony tried to put on a show for his good friend, but in the end, the Knicks dropped their eighth straight game 103-99 to the Portland Trail Blazers in front of King James.

James was in town, with the Cleveland Cavaliers playing the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night at Barclays.

"I knew he was in town, [but] I didn't believe he would come," Anthony said. "But that just goes to show you what type of guy he is. Regardless of what team he's on, there's a support system there, and I take my hat off to him for coming and supporting me tonight. He had a couple days off, and he came to support. I don't think you can say anything bad about that."

Anthony had 23 points and 10 rebounds in front of his Olympic teammate. The two friends had talked prior to the game, but Anthony said James did not tell him he was planning on coming to watch the game.

"He just showed up," Anthony said.

When asked why he was at the Garden, James gave a long, "uhhhhhhh" before saying, "Sunday. I love Sundays."

It was impossible to miss the 6-foot-8, 250-pound James sitting on celebrity row.

And apparently James wasn't just a casual observer. A source said players could hear James complain about calls made against the Knicks.

"I think it's great," J.R. Smith said of James' attending the game. "I think it's great for the game. He's a student of the game. He watches enough basketball and wants to be as much a part of the league as he can."

Smith did have one thing to nitpick with James' surprise appearance, and that was the dark, black-rimmed glasses he wore to the game.

"I wish he would stop wearing those damn glasses, though," Smith joked.

Anthony was asked whether he planned to see James after the game.

"I'm going to get my body right for the next couple hours," he said. He missed two games due to a back injury at the end of November.

Melo needs Phil to dream big

December, 5, 2014
Dec 5
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NEW YORK –- For about three weeks this past summer, a Big Three with the kind of All-Star firepower the Knicks and Phil Jackson can only fantasize about met regularly in a Los Angeles gym.

Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love traded 3-point bombs and fine-tuned their offensive arsenal. And, of course, the subject of playing together did come up among the Olympic teammates.

“I think naturally being around each other this summer and the Olympics and just in common passing, we have always talked about the opportunity to obviously play against each other but playing with each other as well,” Love said in a conversation with ESPNNewYork.com while promoting BodyArmor SportsDrink. “It is always something fun to think about when you have a bunch of guys in the gym this summer. And if not on our respective teams, then maybe at the Olympics.”

Love said this when asked if he and Anthony ever discussed playing together during the workouts. It's not far-fetched to think that at some point the same idea was entertained by Durant with his future set to dominate the NBA rumor mill when his 2016 free agency approaches.

Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Kevin Durant
Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY SportsCarmelo Anthony, Kevin Love and Kevin Durant have played on the same court as All-Stars and as Olympians.
Fortunately for Love, he found his way to LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland via trade.

As for Melo, you know that dark place he wanted to avoid? He might as well be sinking further into the deepest and darkest pit. And he may not see sunlight for a while.

The Knicks are 4-16, their worst 20-game start in team history, after falling 90-87 to the Cavaliers at the Garden. This season is rapidly slipping away. And really all that matters now is finding a way to get significant help around Anthony without wasting more years of his prime.

For the second straight game, Anthony struggled badly in the fourth quarter, missing all four of his shots and failing to score a point in the last quarter. This after he shot 1-for-9 and scored two points in the fourth in a loss to Brooklyn on Tuesday.

For the second game in a row, Anthony missed a potential-game tying three-pointer at the end of the game. Perhaps it was fitting that his last miss came with his good friend LeBron on his hip.

Anthony was trying to beat James for a second time this season, but it just felt like such an unfair fight. The Cavs are still very much a work in progress but they’re going to get their act together. And when they do, it will feel like the Knicks are light years behind them.

Even on a night when they were vulnerable, the Cavs just seemed to have an advantage at all the most important places on the floor against the Knicks. All you needed to do was look at point guard where Irving lit the Garden up with an array of dazzling moves for 37 points.

Derek Fisher finally got a timeout and had to run to midcourt to get it, but the Knicks ended up with Shane Larkin missing a 10-foot floater in the lane with 33.2 seconds left. Seconds later, Irving hit an old-man playground shot high off the glass over Amar’e Stoudemire, putting the Knicks down three with 10 seconds left.

Melo says his back is not an issue, but he hasn’t looked the same these last few games. And that has only made it even more painfully clear just how much help Anthony needs. It could be a long time before he has the kind of firepower to deal with James, Love and Irving –- if ever.

It’s a long shot, likely even a pipe dream, that the Knicks could get another superstar like Durant to play alongside Anthony. The odds of landing Marc Gasol next summer might even be low.

But if Love, Anthony and Durant even spent a millisecond this summer entertaining the notion of one day playing on the same team, the Knicks then have to exhaust every single avenue and resource possible in trying to see if they can get Melo that kind of help even if it means just one of them.

Who knows where Durant will end up when he becomes a free agent in 2016. You have to give Oklahoma City the benefit of the doubt that it can hold onto its superstar. And Washington and Brooklyn will likely be making a play for Durant. And sleep on the Lakers and Heat at your own risk.

The competition for KD will be stiff, but he is every bit worth the wait, especially if there isn’t much to be had on the free agent market next summer for the Knicks.

If Durant ever entertained the notion of playing in New York with Melo no matter how frivolous, the Knicks have to see if they have a shot. This is, after all, what Phil was brought here to do -- to build a winner and lure superstars like Durant in with his Zen-like things and rings.

Love had said himself earlier this summer before his trade to Cleveland that Phil made New York more intriguing.

“It is always something fun to think about,” Love said when asked about if he and Anthony had ever discussed the possibility of teaming up. “New York is one of my favorite places in the world, I spend a lot of time in New York.

“And going to play [there] whether it is the Barclays Center or even more so Madison Square Garden, I said it last year, it is the mecca of basketball. Everybody loves to play there. So it is always something fun to think [about].”

Love is exactly what the Knicks and the triangle need –- a silky-smooth shooting big who can rebound with ease and pass. The sweet-shooting Love can opt out of his contract after this season but he says he plans on staying in Ohio for a long time.

“[Maybe] 10, 20, 30 games to really get on a roll," Love said of how long it might take the Cavs to come together. "We’ve had our little flashes, our little shows of how good we can be, and we are going to continue to work hard.

“The good thing is we have guys who are committed to this organization, to this team -- like myself -- who are probably going to be here for a long time, so we are excited.”

The idea of these Cavaliers being together for a long time is the harsh reality facing Melo and Phil.

If the Knicks are going to have any shot of catching up to LeBron and his dream Big Three, Phil has to dream big and see if he can make a lighthearted conversation that took place in a Southern California gym a reality.

LeBron feels for friend Carmelo

December, 4, 2014
Dec 4
4:33
PM ET
NEW YORK -- LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have been competing against one another since they were in high school.

Through all of the wins and losses over the years, James and Anthony have developed a strong friendship.

[+] EnlargeCarmelo Anthony
Rocky Widner/Getty ImagesThis season hasn't been easy for Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks.
So it’s tough for LeBron to see Carmelo struggling this season with the New York Knicks.

“I always feel for a friend of mine that goes through losing. You never want to see a friend of yours lose,” James said at the Cleveland Cavaliers shootaround on Thursday before the Cavs' win over the Knicks. “But at the same time, for me I have so much that I got to try to figure out on this side that it’s hard for me to kind of just think about what he’s going through, even though I see it.

“So, I want him to win. Obviously, I don’t want him to win against us even though he’s 1-0 against us this year. Hopefully things will turn around for him.”

Thursday's loss to the Cavs was the Knicks' sixth straight. At 4-16, they have the worst record through 20 games in franchise history.

James, whose Cavaliers have won five straight, had a strong all-around night against the Knicks. He scored 17 points and handed out 12 assists. Kyrie Irving torched the Knicks for 37 points.

“Anytime I go against one of my great friends, it’s always great competition and you always have a lot of fun with it,” James said.

Anthony and the Knicks beat the Cavs on the road in the second game of the season, but have gone just 2-15 since. Their lone wins have come against Charlotte and Philadelphia, two teams who have a combined 5-32 record.

New York is struggling on both ends of the floor. The Knicks entered play Tuesday with the eighth-worst offensive and the 27th ranked defense.

Despite the Knicks’ struggles, first-year head coach Derek Fisher said on Tuesday that he is not concerned about the team’s record.

"I mean, it is just a reality. I don’t know if it is a concerning thing as though we can’t do something about it," Fisher said after the Knicks' loss to the Nets. "If we were 4-15 and every time you watch us play, we couldn’t beat the other team, I’d be concerned. But we are seeing enough to let us know that if we just control the parts that we can control, we can actually win some of these games.

"Am I happy about it? No. None of those players in the locker room are happy about it. But concerned is a defeated word. That is a word of not believing that you can still figure things out, and we still believe that right now."

Information from ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin was used in this report.

Carmelo: 'Not gonna panic' about start

December, 1, 2014
Dec 1
7:54
PM ET
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.

Fisher disappointed by Knicks' effort

November, 29, 2014
Nov 29
4:11
PM ET
On Friday night, Derek Fisher saw something in the Knicks he hadn't seen before.

Despite the fact the Knicks have now lost 13 times in 17 games, Fisher felt his team could compete with its opponents at times during the game.

Then, the Oklahoma City Thunder wiped the Knicks off the Chesapeake Energy Arena floor on Friday night 105-78, and Fisher couldn't hide his disappointment.

"Just seeing our team, you know, just flat," Fisher told reporters after the loss. "Maybe from the [overtime] loss to Dallas maybe still a little deflated after expending so much energy there.

"But [we] just, you know, couldn't get up to the level of our opponent, and that's really the first time I've felt that all season, early in the game, where it felt like we just couldn't get to the level of the team we were playing against."

The Knicks are off to a dismal 4-13 start, but Friday's loss was embarrassing. Playing without Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks shot 4-for-22 in the first quarter. They shot 0-for-13 from behind the 3-point arc in the first half and fell behind by as much as 37.

"They played like they wanted it more," Amar'e Stoudemire said after the loss, according to The New York Daily News. "At this point, I don't see how a team could want it more than we do. It’s unacceptable."

"We're a team that's only won four games all season," Stoudemire added. "I know it's 17 games, but this can't be acceptable."

Russell Westbrook shredded the Knicks in his first game back from a hand injury, dropping 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in just 24 minutes. The Thunder point guard became the first player in the shot-clock era to have 32 points and eight assists in 24 or fewer minutes, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"It wasn't really just Russell," Fisher explained of the Knicks' woes. "Just overall, they were at a higher rate than us. The energy was higher, and we couldn't meet it. We couldn't bring the necessary energy to tonight's game."

Certainly, it was disappointing for Fisher to see this kind of effort from the Knicks against his former team, but Fisher sounded like his Knicks coaching predecessor, Mike Woodson, who on several nights last season was left scratching his head wondering where the Knicks' energy and desire were.

Fisher has tried to remain positive in his first season as coach, understanding that it will take time for the team to learn the triangle offense.

Still, there are things the Knicks can control, such as effort and desire. According to the Daily News, Jose Calderon said Fisher told the Knicks at halftime that "we could not play worse."

The Knicks have to bounce back from their worst loss of the season with a three-game homestand coming up against the Miami Heat (Sunday), crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets (Tuesday) and LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers (Thursday).

"We got to have a lion's heart," Stoudemire said. "There’s no excuses at this point. We can't keep having moral victories. We can't say we're still learning. We can't say we had an off night shooting.

"That happens, but you still can win the ballgame by defending. It's the intensity level at this point, and that's not acceptable."

Amar'e feels like 'everything is back'

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
4:36
PM ET
This season, Amar’e Stoudemire said he planned on reminding people how good he can be when healthy.

In his past three games, Stoudemire has shown flashes of vintage Amar’e, averaging 16.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and shooting 17-of-21.

During Saturday’s much-needed 91-83 win over the lowly Sixers, Stoudemire made 5 of 6 shots and had 16 points and 11 rebounds in just 20 minutes.

Perhaps he found the Fountain of Youth in those red wine baths he’s been taking.

“I feel great,” Stoudemire said after the win over the Sixers. “To feel this explosive and energetic and quick, everything is back. I feel blessed to be able to say that once again.”

It’s been a long road back for Stoudemire, who has done all he can to return from surgeries on both knees. This season, Stoudemire is averaging 12 points, 7.4 rebounds and 54.8 percent shooting in 22.8 minutes per game.

With the Knicks monitoring his health and minutes, Stoudemire has sat out just one of the Knicks’ first 14 games.

Last season, Stoudemire played in 65 games, averaging 11.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in 22 minutes per game. But Stoudemire came on strong at the end, averaging 16.9 points and 6.6 rebounds in March.

He looks like he is picking up where he left off last season.

Knicks coach Derek Fisher says his big man has been able to adapt to the triangle pretty well so far.

“I think Amar'e has been effective all season long, in a sense, but I think he understands where his opportunities come from within the system,” Fisher said. “He is taking advantage of those, being aggressive and rebounding the ball.”

Carmelo Anthony is certainly appreciative of Stoudemire’s efforts to regain his old form.

“I think he’s getting more comfortable with himself, his body, knowing what he can do out there on the basketball court and taking advantage of the mismatches and the situations,” Anthony said. “He’s our go-to post player. We need a bucket at times, we’re definitely going to him.”

There’s a lot of season left to play, but Stoudemire’s contract year is off to a good start.

“It took me a little longer [than expected],” Stoudemire told reporters when asked how long he thought it would take to get back to feeling healthy and playing his game again.

“Those two years previously were extremely tough to go through. But I knew hard work and dedication to the game of basketball -- staying focused, it’ll all pan out.

"So far, feeling great. Going to do everything I can to keep that feeling.”

Melo feels 'disbelief' after 7th straight loss

November, 15, 2014
Nov 15
9:05
AM ET
NEW YORK -- Shortly after Trey Burke knocked down a seemingly impossible shot to send the New York Knicks to their seventh straight loss, Carmelo Anthony walked across the Garden floor with the ball in his hand, as if he was looking for another shot.

“I just wanted it to go to overtime,” he said. “Just give us a chance to play to win.”

Anthony did all he could to lead the Knicks to a victory on Friday -- scoring an NBA-high 46 points on just 26 shots.

It was easily his best night in the triangle offense. Yet the end result was eerily familiar.

Anthony and the Knicks walked off the floor with a loss for the seventh straight game. Afterward, the Knicks' star was at a loss for words.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Anthony said. “Just disbelief.”

For a while on Friday night, it seemed like Anthony was going to single-handedly snap the Knicks’ losing streak.

He had 17 points in the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz, including an incredible game-tying 3-pointer -- off glass -- over the outstretched hand of Derrick Favors.

“I was just trying man. I don’t like to lose and tonight was just one of those games trying to will our way to win,” he said afterward.

Wins have been hard to come by for Anthony over the last 12 months.

The Knicks finished last season with just 37 wins as Anthony missed the playoffs for the first time in his 12-year career.

New York started 2-1 this season but has since dropped seven in a row. This is just the seventh season in the team's last 50 in which the Knicks have started 2-8, per ESPN Stats & Info.

The Knicks made the playoffs in just one of those seasons (1987-88).

Surely, Anthony expected better than 2-8 after he re-signed with New York as a free agent over the summer.

Late Friday night, Anthony was asked if all of the losing -- including home defeats against Orlando and Utah -- had started to wear on him.

“It can easily wear on you a lot,” Anthony said. “Right now, we feel like we’re losing games we should win. The thing about it, we’re losing here at home, so that makes it hurt even more. At the end of the day, man, what can we do?”

Anthony couldn't do much more for the Knicks on Friday. Forty-six points on 26 shots. Sixteen trips to the line. Seven rebounds.

The end result, though, was more frustration.

Question: Do you think the Knicks can bounce back from their seven-game skid? Or is the team headed to another season without a playoff berth?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

J.R.: 'I think we went with the best shot'

November, 13, 2014
Nov 13
1:31
AM ET


NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks signed Carmelo Anthony to a five-year, $124 million contract in July for moments like this: down two, 3.5 seconds to play, a chance to snap a debilitating five-game losing streak.

Get the ball to Melo, right?

Not quite.

Instead, J.R. Smith took a 27-footer from the top of the arc with 0.6 seconds left that went off the backboard and left the Knicks with their sixth straight loss.

"I think we went with the best shot," Smith said after the 97-95 loss to the Orlando Magic. "I think it was the right shot, and I just didn’t make it."

Surely, there are thousands of Knicks fans who would disagree. But Smith has a point.

Pablo Prigioni inbounded to Smith about 35 feet from the basket, thanks in part to strong denials from Magic defenders.

[+] EnlargeJ.R. Smith
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIJ.R. Smith failed to hit iron on his last-second shot.
If Smith passed the ball to Anthony, he would have had about two seconds to get a shot off from about 20 feet away.

"If I forced that into him, what kind of shot is he really going to have?" Smith said. "A turnaround fadeaway. It's not the best shot we want. I don't think it's enough [time] for him to set his feet and do what he wanted to do."

For what it's worth, Anthony took a diplomatic approach when he was asked about the final possession.

"I thought we ran the play that was designed," he said.

But Anthony's body language told a different story. He didn't look pleased with the shot as it was going up -- or after it failed to draw iron.

"Of course I want it. Whether he could have got it to me or not, that's a different question," Anthony said. "J.R., he had an open shot, or thought he had an open shot. That was that."

The end result, of course, was another Knicks loss. At 2-7, the Knicks are one game worse than they were last season through nine games.

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From president Phil Jackson on down, every member of the organization has been preaching patience during the losing streak.

But there are hints that the losses are taking a toll on the team's psyche.

"We need to stop worrying about how we're not going to lose games and worry about how we're going to win games," Anthony said after the game.

The Knicks' early schedule was daunting. They played six playoff teams in their first eight games. One of the nonplayoff teams was the Cleveland Cavaliers. So a slow start was to be expected.

But Wednesday's game was supposed to be a break from all of that.

Orlando came to the Garden with a 2-6 record. It was playing the second game of a road back-to-back and its third game in four nights.

"I thought this was a game we could have went out there and got tonight, [to] kind of get that monkey off our back, so this is a tough one to swallow," Anthony said. "We have to bounce back from this."

That's a position the Knicks have been in too often for Anthony’s liking.

"I don't want to keep saying the same thing, but we’ve got to stay with it," Anthony said. "I have to keep saying the same thing. I don't want to. Hopefully we get a chance to turn this thing around."

Question: Who do you think should have taken the last shot against Orlando? Should Derek Fisher have drawn up a better play to get the ball to Carmelo?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
24.5 3.3 0.9 37.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsA. Stoude... 7.4
AssistsJ. Calderon 4.5
StealsP. Prigioni 1.3
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.3