New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony

Galloway reminds Melo a little of 'Linsanity'

January, 29, 2015
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NEW YORK –- In a short amount of time, Langston Galloway has made quite an impression for an undrafted rookie.

In fact, Galloway’s confidence and ability to step up in some big moments reminds Carmelo Anthony of another undrafted New York Knicks point guard who created a worldwide stir a few seasons ago.

When asked if he has seen another rookie as fearless as Galloway in taking big shots, Anthony mentioned the “L” word –- “Linsanity.”

[+] EnlargeGalloway
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsKnicks rookie Langston Galloway had 18 points in the win over the Thunder.
“I don’t know man, I would say probably ‘Linsanity,’” Anthony said. “[Jeremy Lin] wasn’t a rookie but he was here and he had that mindset of taking the big shot when he first got here.

"I don’t like to compare anything, but Langston’s mindset of being willing to take that big shot, take the open shot, just having the opportunity out there, I think Langston loves those moments.”

Galloway may not become the overnight sensation that Lin became when he captivated many with a magical 35-game run with the Knicks in 2011-12. But during this dark and dismal season, Galloway has become a rare bright spot for the 9-37 Knicks.

The Knicks have played their best basketball of the season with help from Galloway, who scored 18 points and had four assists, four rebounds and three steals in a 100-92 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.

Galloway, who agreed to terms with the Knicks this week for the remainder of this season and the 2015-16 season, has played a pivotal role in helping the Knicks win four of their past five games.

During that five-game stretch, Galloway is averaging 15.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Coach Derek Fisher has played Galloway an average of 33 minutes in those five games.

“He is not fearful of any moment,” Fisher said of Galloway. “When he is out there on the floor, he trusts himself. He plays with a confident toughness that has been really good for our group. And the guys enjoy having him around because of who he is as a young man, his character and how he’s built.

“And it is easy for teammates to want to be on the floor and support a guy like Langston,” Fisher continued. “Those are the type of guys we want to have around here as we build this thing out and that is why we got done what we got done yesterday [in signing him to a contract] and we are happy to have him.”

The St. Joe’s product has seemingly come out of nowhere. He played on the Knicks’ summer league team before being in their camp. He played earlier this season on the Knicks’ D-League team in Westchester before being signed to two 10-day contracts.

Fisher has credited hungry 10-day guys like Galloway, Lou Amundson and Lance Thomas with helping change the team’s mentality on the court.

While the Thunder played without Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook tried to carry Oklahoma City with 40 points, four assists and four rebounds. The Thunder point guard was a load for Galloway and the Knicks to handle, going to the line 12 times.

But Galloway banked in a big 20-footer with 4:41 remaining after Oklahoma City cut a nine-point deficit to two. Galloway’s basket started a 10-0 run that finished with him assisting Tim Hardaway Jr. on a 3-pointer with 2:35 to go to push the Knicks up 92-80.

“I’m just out there having fun,” Galloway said. “Just trying to play ball and learn from these experiences.”

Galloway has played in only nine games with the Knicks, so he still has a ways to go before “Langstanity” gets rolling. But so far, Galloway reminds at least one Knick of another previously little-known point guard with the ability to hit some big shots.

“Langston can play,” Anthony said. “I don’t think a lot of people know about him. But he can play basketball. Even going back to training camp, early in preseason, we knew he could play basketball.

“He’s great at getting in the paint, he can score the basketball,” Anthony added. “If he don’t have something, he’ll find the open man. That’s what he’s been doing.”

No more 'late nights' for J.R. in Cleveland

January, 27, 2015
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J.R. Smith thinks Cleveland is “the best situation” for him and it’s not just because LeBron James is there.

The way Smith sees it, the shooter might be able to find more consistency in his game in a city like Cleveland where there isn’t as much of a nightlife as New York City.

In a conversation with NBA.com’s David Aldridge, Smith said living in Cleveland should help his game.

“Consistency has been something that ... I wouldn't say lacked, but it's just been stints where I get hot, and then you go cold for two, three games, whatever the case may be,” Smith said. “Just staying consistent, and that involves staying in the gym. So for me, I got my brother here with me, so we're in the gym every night, playing one-on-one, or whatever the case may be, as well as me getting my rest.

“I think this is the best situation for me, 'cause there's nothing but basketball. There's nothing you expect but basketball. There's nothing, there's no going out, there's no late nights. There's video games, basketball and basketball.”

The former Knick, who was traded along with Iman Shumpert to the Cavs in a three-team deal earlier this month, said living in Cleveland reminds him of what life was like when he was younger.

“It's a great thing, 'cause I go back to where I came from,” said Smith, who grew up in New Jersey. “When I grew up, I never, I wasn't allowed to go out. I missed my prom because I went to an AAU tournament, and all that stuff. For me, it was basketball, basketball, basketball.

“And then when I got in the situation where I was at an early age, it was more, all right, let me see what this life is about, as opposed to just keep going. So now, I get the chance to get back to my roots.”

Smith is averaging 15.2 points in his first 10 games in Cleveland after scoring 10.9 per game as a Knick this season. He admits that the Manhattan nightlife was not the best thing for his game.

“Especially from the standpoint of making me better,” Smith said. “I always made myself better by staying in the gym. When you replace that with stuff off the court, then you're taking away from what made you who you are, or what got you to a certain point. It was kind of pulling me down in a sense, of not getting enough rest, not doing things you're supposed to be doing, things you're used to doing.”

Smith said the toughest part of being traded is no longer playing with Carmelo Anthony, who had been teammates with Smith in Denver and New York.

“We played together nine years,” Smith said. “The bond, the camaraderie, the brotherhood that we gained, it's, I wouldn't say over, it's just discontinued. When you're playing with a person like Melo, you depend on him a lot, from on the court and off the court.

“I can always go to him for advice, just everyday life things, as well as stuff on the court. So I think that's the toughest part. But fortunately, coming to a team like this, I've also got him in a different person, between him and LeBron. It's pretty much the same concepts and stuff like that; it's just coming from a different voice.”

Smith said he really wanted to succeed in the triangle offense. But he understands what Phil Jackson is trying to do in New York.

“They made the right decision,” Smith said. “You have to take the car apart in order for it to be what you want it to be.”

STAT: 'Sometimes your will takes over'

January, 15, 2015
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LONDON –- Amar'e Stoudemire feels ready to begin what could be his final stretch as a New York Knick on Thursday in London against the Milwaukee Bucks.

With the status of the veteran forward, along with Carmelo Anthony, still technically a game-time decision, both went into morning shootaround on their European detour at The 02 Arena with an optimistic mood as the Knicks attempt to end a 15-game skid.

Since his knee feels improved, Stoudemire seems the more certain of the two players to get the green light to hit the floor in front of a sold-out 19,000-strong crowd. However, having averaged 26.4 minutes per game in his 28 appearances so far this season, STAT seems likely to be bound by some time restrictions as he feels his way back.

The biggest thing, he said, is making some contribution to lift the Knicks' mood. “It means a lot. The guys need our help. It’s been a tough season so far for us, so the more men we have on the court the better.”

A less than fully healthy Stoudemire is nothing new. Early in the season, there were notional limits on his playing time but with all help required, he has no regrets now about letting those slide.

“You’re trying to win,” he added. “You do whatever it takes to win. Sometimes your will takes over. I wish we’d have won more games but that happens all the time across the NBA: guys push through. It’s a challenge. When you’re competitive. You want to compete every night.”

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Will the Knicks snap their skid in London?

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The personnel bump will force head coach Derek Fisher to render someone inactive for a game that will start at 3 p.m. ET, with Lou Amundson looking the most likely candidate to make way.

Fisher views the improving collective health as a positive. Yet with the Bucks 2-0 over New York this season –- even with Anthony available and scoring a game-high 26 points in a 117-113 loss in November -- the presence of two All-Stars offers no magic potion.

“Where we have to remind the guys who have been there without them the last couple of weeks is that you can’t stop playing because they’re back,” Fisher said.

“You still have to trust yourself and trust your instincts and stop playing your game just to facilitate their game.”

Milwaukee will bring back Turkish forward Ersan Ilyasova, who had 20 points in that November contest, after sitting out 10 games due to concussion.
Carmelo AnthonyEric Gay/AP PhotoCarmelo Anthony & Co. are off to London, but the Knicks will need Melo most next month -- when the NBA's brightest stars align in the Big Apple for All-Star Weekend.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- As Phil Jackson continues to strip down the Knicks and reconstruct them piece by piece, Carmelo Anthony is rehabbing his knee in an effort to play again.

This is a good thing, because Anthony's role in this rebuilding process is only about to begin. With his team at 5-35, Melo has nothing left to play for this season. Like Jackson, Anthony's eye has to be fixated on the future, first and foremost this summer.

That's why Anthony needs to play in next month’s All-Star Game if his knee will allow. Representing New York in the Big Apple gala would certainly be one bright spot in what very well could be one of the worst seasons we have ever seen in New York professional sports history.

New York needs Melo in the All-Star Game to begin the recruiting process and start getting in the ears of future free-agent All-Stars.

Melo doesn’t even need to leave his home to recruit. Instead, the stars are coming to him and the Garden. For one weekend, New York will be the center of the NBA universe and Melo can serve as the host.

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Should Melo sit out the rest of the season?

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Knicks fans should hope Melo will be playing tour guide to the stars for Manhattan’s finest restaurants and swankiest spots for all the glitzy parties that come with All-Star Weekend.

Anthony was asked Monday whether he can be persuasive as a recruiter later this summer.

“I don’t think that'll be an issue, just as far as me trying to persuade guys to come play in New York and play for the Knicks despite kind of getting them to overlook what’s going on right now,” Anthony said. “I think I’m a good salesman. But we’ll see what happens when that time comes. I mean, it’s a long time until that comes.”

Still, Melo can get a head start at All-Star Weekend by practicing and playing alongside the galaxy of Adam Silver's superstars. Yes, we all know that NBA rules don’t allow any recruiting before midnight at the start of free agency.

But let’s be real: Players talk about it all the time and at some point during that weekend, a few NBA buddies might discuss the crazy notion of forming the next superstar trio to take the NBA by storm.

In today’s NBA fishbowl, the stars all talk to one another and are all boys either from their AAU days or from Team USA experience.

Kevin Love said last month that the idea of one day playing together came up while he worked out with Kevin Durant and Anthony in Los Angeles last summer. So it happens all the time. (And that would be the same Love who might opt not to stay in Cleveland this summer as one player and an executive said they’ve been hearing lately ... although a lot can happen between now and July.)

The point is, the best players in the game are always looking for whatever advantage they can get to win rings and cement legacies. And that means aligning themselves with as much talent as possible.

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If the South Beach Super Friends merger taught us anything, it’s that it is possible for megastars to play their own version of fantasy basketball and hatch plans to play together. This summer, Melo has to be as persuasive of a recruiter as Dwyane Wade was back in 2010. No matter whose idea it was for LeBron James, Wade and Chris Bosh to team up, it was Wade and Pat Riley who made it happen.

The minute Phil took James Dolan's millions to try to turn the Knicks around, he knew he would need to form the same kind of union Wade and Riley have with his franchise player.

Jackson persuaded Anthony to stay. Now Anthony has to help Jackson recruit another star or two to come.

Phil can put all 11 of his rings on the table in front of any prospective free agent. But Jackson isn’t returning to coach as far as we know. And if any prospective free agent doesn’t think he can win with Melo, Phil's bling and Dolan's checkbook won't matter.

“Who wants to play with Melo?” one Western Conference player recently asked. Anthony is one of the friendliest stars in all of sports, someone who gets along with dozens of stars around the NBA. But Anthony might also have a a bit of a perception to battle when it comes to persuading a star to join his team -- one of a potentially difficult player to win with.

“I haven't had a complaint yet in my 11 years in this NBA about playing with me,” Anthony said in October 2013. “I think people would love to come to play in New York. And when that time comes we'll be working on that. I have a big black book. I have a big Rolodex."

Like Wade taking a step back and putting aside any ego about being the man in Miami when James and Bosh joined him, Melo has to be ready to sacrifice if necessary in order to win a championship. Phil has alluded to this before when talking about Anthony and what he has to do to take that next step to become a winner like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

Melo has shown he can share the spotlight with stars on Team USA. Now he likely will have to show he can share his own team, city and spotlight, if he wants to play alongside another star and win -- something I think he is willing to do, and more important can do, after these past two nightmarish seasons.

Anthony hopes to return to the court Thursday against Milwaukee in London. The plan is to keep playing after that, but Melo acknowledges he very well may have to shut his season down eventually and head into surgery.

Knicks fans should hope Melo can stay healthy enough to play in February's All-Star Game and remind prospective free-agent All-Stars how good he is when healthy, to start planting the seed about coming to New York whether it be this summer or next (the summer of Durant).

Come July, a weekend of Melo practicing, playing and partying with fellow All-Stars in February could end up being the best thing to happen for the Knicks during this forsaken season.
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NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony has missed two straight games due to a throbbing knee, the Knicks barely have enough bodies to practice, and the losses are piling up at a franchise-record rate.

The Knicks lost their 11th consecutive game 95-82 to Milwaukee on Sunday at the Garden.

But if Derek Fisher ever needed proof that miraculous turnarounds can happen and seemingly come out of nowhere, all the Knicks coach had to do was look no further than across the court at his counterpart Sunday night -– Jason Kidd.

A year ago, Kidd helped Brooklyn orchestrate a stunning turnaround, going from a dreadful 10-21 start to a 44-38 finish and securing the sixth seed in the 2014 Eastern Conference playoffs. After their 10-21 start filled with injuries and turmoil, the Nets won 33 of the next 46 games.

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AP Photo/Kathy WillensDerek Fisher has kept his head held high throughout a 5-31 start in his first head coaching job.
Of course, Fisher doesn’t have a veteran roster full of former All-Stars, like Kidd did last year in Brooklyn. He has one franchise player dealing with a balky knee and is a possible candidate to be shut down later if things don’t improve. The rookie coach also possesses a battered roster in much need of more youth and talent.

Still, Fisher has to keep the belief that the Knicks can eventually turn things around. That’s why right now he is looking more toward what the Detroit Pistons are currently doing before trying to duplicate what the Nets accomplished last year.

Since they released Josh Smith, the Pistons have won five straight games to lift their record to 10-23, just four games back of the eighth-place Miami Heat.

“I think obviously, different teams, different circumstances, different rosters,” Fisher said of looking to the Nets’ run last year as hope. “But I think a better example is what the Detroit Pistons have done ... the team starts feeling better about who they are.

“Whether the Pistons make the playoffs or not, it doesn’t take forever to start to feel better about who your team is and what you’re trying to do,” Fisher added. “I think there are those types of examples that we can look to our team compared to Brooklyn’s team last year.”

Despite the fact that they have lost 21 of their past 22 games, the Knicks (5-31) somehow only trail the Miami Heat by 10.5 games for the eighth spot, with 51 games remaining in their season.

It might as well be a 20-game deficit with the way the Knicks have been playing. They need to simply win a game before even thinking of stringing together a couple wins in a row. Their health also has to improve, starting with Melo’s knee. Then they have to start believing they can win and pull out close games.

The schedule later this month isn’t ridiculous. The Knicks face a tough stretch coming up with five of the next six games against opponents with winning records –- Memphis (24-9), Washington (22-11), Houston (23-10), Milwaukee (18-17) and New Orleans (17-16).

But after that, the Knicks have nine games against Philadelphia (4-28), Orlando (13-24), Charlotte (11-24), Sacramento (14-20), Oklahoma City (17-17), Indiana (13-21), the Lakers (10-23), Boston (11-20) and Brooklyn (16-17).

If Anthony opts to keep playing and feels better after some time off, and Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert get healthier by that stretch, Fisher’s team will have to make a run if they have any aspirations of trying to do anything this season.

And who knows? The subpar Eastern Conference might keep the Knicks within shooting distance of the eighth spot.

“There’s always a lot of basketball to be played, so there is always time to change things around,” Kidd said Sunday night before beating the Knicks. “In the East, everybody is still eligible to make the playoffs. So anything can happen.”

“If you feel you have a chance to make the playoffs -- I think everybody still does,” Kidd added. “Because if you go on a run, you win three or four in a row, you are right back in the hunt.”

The Nets were an absolute mess before their run last season. They were getting drilled early on by several teams, as new pieces tried to mesh with a rookie head coach. There were injuries, controversy and many lopsided losses.

But when Brook Lopez went down for the season in late December, the Nets went with a smaller lineup and thrived with Paul Pierce at power forward. Also, Kidd got more comfortable coaching and tweaked what the Nets had been doing since training camp.

Brooklyn’s belief began to increase as it won 10 of 11 games after Jan. 1. The whole time, though, things could have easily gone the other way for the Nets because of the big hole they put themselves in.

“Your margin of error is slim now,” Kidd said when asked what it takes for a team to turn things around this late. “Everything has to go perfect.”

The Nets’ turnaround last season might be a once-in-a-blue-moon thing.

But it happened seemingly against all odds.

The Knicks just need to taste a win streak again –- something they haven’t had since the third game of the season, when they won two straight.

Then who knows what can happen in the East.

“I reminded them things always come around,” Fisher said when asked what he told his players after the Milwaukee loss. “And for those that remain diligent and focused on working hard, when it turns and the opportunity for success presents itself, you’re more prepared for it.

“It will turn for us. It just doesn’t look like it right now.”

Knicks ought to put Carmelo on the shelf

January, 3, 2015
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- Bodies are dropping all around Derek Fisher.

The New York Knicks' head coach, in the midst of a nightmarish rookie season, barely has enough people to practice right now. Deep down, Fisher knows there will very likely be more nights when he won’t have his superstar available.

[+] EnlargeCarmelo Anthony
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesCarmelo Anthony has already proven he can play through pain.
Carmelo Anthony has missed three games with a lingering knee injury and is listed as doubtful to play against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Fisher says the team and Anthony have not yet discussed the possibility of shutting the star down for the season. But the coach admits it’s a possibility if the balky knee continues to be a problem.

The season has already gotten away from the Knicks. They’ve lost 10 straight games and 20 of their past 21. Let that sink in for a moment.

Amazingly, at 5-30, the Knicks were only 10 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, as of Saturday afternoon. But forget about the playoffs. At this point, the Knicks are more of a threat to the Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves –- two teams in complete rebuilding mode –- for the worst record in the NBA.

That’s why the Knicks should shut Anthony down eventually. If not in the very near future, they should at least rest him for a week or two -- like the Cleveland Cavaliers are doing with LeBron James –- and then let him play in the All-Star Game, if possible.

Anthony deserves a chance to rep New York when the brightest stars come to play in his hometown. After that, they should put him on ice for the rest of the season.

Even if Anthony says he can’t make his knee any worse by playing, it certainly isn’t going to improve by playing. So why risk your $124 million centerpiece? Anthony will really earn his contract if and when Phil Jackson can add another star or two to the mix.

What about Carmelo getting more comfortable with Fisher and the triangle? Truth be told, he won’t be playing in the triangle with these players when it really matters. Jackson needs to break this group up and add more and better pieces, so Anthony will have to adjust to playing in the triangle next season, anyway.

Besides, Jackson and Fisher need to evaluate players such as Cleanthony Early, Tim Hardaway Jr., J.R. Smith, Shane Larkin and Cole Aldrich in the triangle more than seeing Anthony get cozier with the system.

Business-wise, shutting Anthony down won’t make fans happy about spending premium bucks for their tickets. But if the bottom line is winning -- and not keeping seats filled -- the Knicks need to protect their most expensive investment.

When Jackson took over as team president, one of the first goals he mentioned was to provide the players with a support system and improve the team’s overall health.

“The idea of developing a culture is an overwrought word in the NBA right now,” Jackson said at his introductory press conference last March. “But that’s the cache that brought me here. That there are things I believe that players should have, that is important for them. They should have the security of knowing they are going to be supported by the organization and coaching staff. It is a very tenuous world as it is to be a player. So putting yourself on the line, you need to have that support. That is something we want to build for them. We want to build some things that are very important to basketball players -- developing a health record in which injuries are limited.”

The Knicks’ health has been a disaster of late. There's no need for Anthony, 30, to keep playing through pain and have that catch up with him down the road.

To be sure, without Carmelo, there is even less reason to watch the futile Knicks. Witnessing Friday’s 97-81 loss to the Detroit Pistons was downright brutal.

Want to punish somebody? Make them watch the Knicks play a game without Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert or Samuel Dalembert. At one point in the third quarter, the Knicks trailed 75-46!

Could the Knicks still make a deal before the trade deadline? Sure. But you want Jackson to rebuild, not reload. What good is window dressing on a dilapidated and condemned house? Landing a star in a trade at the deadline to give Anthony help for a miracle run to the playoffs seems even unlikelier than the Knicks going on a tear and making the playoffs with this group.

If anything, the one shining light in this debacle of a season is the Knicks still have their first-round draft pick. The more they lose, the better the odds of landing the likes of Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns or Emmanuel Mudiay in the lottery.

It’s hard to say what kind of impact anyone from this summer's draft will have, but having a healthy Anthony able to mentor that rookie will be better than having Anthony still recovering from this injury. If he eventually needs surgery -- something he hopes to avoid -- delaying it doesn’t help the Knicks.

At the moment, the Knicks are keeping their options open and hoping Anthony will feel better next week. He has already shown he will play through painful shoulder and knee injuries. He has nothing to prove when it comes to his toughness.

Frankly, unless a miracle on 34th Street happens, the Knicks don’t have anything left worth his fighting through pain for this season -- no matter how many millions James Dolan has in his bank account.

Melo doubtful but no shutdown talk yet

January, 3, 2015
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- Carmelo Anthony is listed as doubtful to play against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Anthony has missed three games this season due to left knee soreness, including Friday’s 97-81 loss to Detroit at home.

Head coach Derek Fisher admitted Friday that there could be consideration to shutting down Anthony eventually if it comes to that. But Fisher said on Saturday that there hasn’t been any talk about shutting down Melo yet and that the hope is "he can be back with us next week.”

“No, I don’t think shutting down is really the conversation that we’re having,” Fisher said. “I think like we’ve talked about, Carmelo is involved in all of the discussions, because it’s his body and his career. And so, we’re all talking about what’s best for him, what’s best for the team, and right now, it’s taking some rest and recovery for the foreseeable future, in terms of maybe the next week or so.

“But not anything more than that has been discussed in terms of the entire season,” Fisher continued. “I still feel strongly that if he, or we as a group feel that there’s a need to do that, I think that we can get to the point where we can make that decision.”

The battered Knicks limp into their game against Milwaukee having lost 10 straight and 20 of their last 21 games.

Tim Hardaway Jr. (concussion) went through a vigorous workout and said he feels great and is ready to return Sunday. But besides Anthony, Andrea Bargnani (sore right calf) and Amar’e Stoudemire (sore right knee) are doubtful to play. Samuel Dalembert (sprained right ankle) is questionable, and Iman Shumpert (dislocated shoulder) remains out.

Fisher says Anthony’s status will be considered game-by-game for now.

“I think every guy is game-by-game, honestly,” Fisher said. “You don’t know how guys are going to respond to what they just went through the night before.”

“With Melo, you obviously know he’s had some issue with the knee,” Fisher added. “But it’s not a situation where we’re thinking about asking him to step out for the rest of the season. I think he wants to play. ... We thought it would be a good stretch to get a good recovery in, and hopefully, he can be back with us next week.”

Melo probable, Bargnani nearing return

December, 30, 2014
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Barring a setback with his achy knee, Carmelo Anthony looks set to play on New Year’s Eve against the Los Angeles Clippers.

And there’s a chance the Knicks also could have Andrea Bargnani back.

Bargnani was upgraded to questionable and is nearing a return. According to Newsday, Bargnani said he plans on being active and potentially making his season debut after practicing with the team in Los Angeles.

Guard J.R. Smith (plantar fascia) and center Samuel Dalembert (ankle) are also listed as questionable by the Knicks. Forward Amar’e Stoudemire (knee) is listed as doubtful while guard Iman Shumpert (shoulder) and forward Cleanthony Early (knee) are out.

Anthony has been battling soreness in his left knee all season and was limited to 19 minutes as he sat out the second half of the Knicks’ loss at Portland on Sunday night.

It remains to be seen how much Anthony can play if active and how Derek Fisher will ease Bargnani back into the mix once the big man is back. But the Knicks sure can use some of the 7-footer’s offensive skills and outside shooting.

Bargnani hasn’t played all season after suffering a hamstring injury and then a calf injury.

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

December, 25, 2014
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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
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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
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.

Melo: We're beating ourselves

December, 15, 2014
12/15/14
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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
12/11/14
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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
12/11/14
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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.”

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
24.1 3.1 0.9 35.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsA. Stoude... 7.0
AssistsJ. Calderon 4.6
StealsS. Larkin 1.3
BlocksL. Amundson 1.9