Monday, February 13, 2012
Updated: February 17, 10:28 AM ET
Carmelo Anthony could return
By Ian Begley
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
GREENBURGH, NY -- Carmelo Anthony insists that when he returns to the floor nothing will change for the new-look New York Knicks. Jeremy Lin will continue to run the show.
"When I get back Jeremy will have the ball in his hands and I'm playing off of that," Anthony said on Monday.
The Knicks announced on their Twitter account that Anthony could return "toward end of week."
Many people have wondered over the past week how Anthony will fit into the Knicks' offense under Lin, who has become the talk of the NBA over the Knicks' past five games.
Forward Amare Stoudemire is slated to return to the lineup Tuesday after missing a week for his brother's funeral. He should benefit from the pick-and-roll. Anthony traditionally thrives in isolation situations. So far under Lin, the Knicks' offense has been predicated on ball movement. So some have questioned whether Anthony can adjust to things under Lin.
Anthony has seen the speculation on television and the Internet. And he thinks it's pretty amusing, calling Lin's recent ascension "a dream come true" for the Knicks (13-15).
"When I'm reading the stuff, it's more funny than anything because at the end of the day I know what I bring to the game, I know what I bring to this team," Anthony said on Monday after missing practice due to a strained right groin. "My teammates know that. But to say, 'How can I fit in?' It's easy; give him the ball and space out. I get back to doing what I know how to do best. So we'll see."
Anthony said he is confident that he can fit in well with Lin, who missed practice on Monday for a standard recovery day and will play on Tuesday against the Toronto Raptors. Anthony has missed the Knicks' last three games after injuring his groin on Monday against Utah. He is happy that Lin has emerged to take some of the load off of his shoulders.
"I know there's questions about, 'Can I fit in?' and stuff like that, but this is like a dream come true to me," Anthony said. "It takes some pressure off of me. I don't have to play point guard. I don't have to try to get Amare 20 points, try to get this guy 20 points, me try to go out there and get 25-30 points a night, play defense, rebound do the whole thing."
It's clear that the Knicks have looked like a different team since Lin took over at point guard.
New York is averaging 11 more points per 48 minutes with Lin on the floor. The Knicks' shooting percentage is 5 percent higher with Lin.
Lin and Anthony rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in usage rate -- a measurement of how many possessions a player uses per 40 minutes. So they will have to find a happy medium when it comes to handling the ball. Anthony said there will still be opportunities for him to run isolation plays but Lin will be the team's primary ball handler.
"I don't think I want to take that away, I don't think Coach wants to take that away," Anthony said. "But at the same time, I have to get away from the ball knowing that Jeremy is the guy with the basketball, and knowing that he can create for me, for Amare, for everybody else and make other guys better."
Coach Mike D'Antoni acknowledged that adjustments will need to be made when Anthony returns.
But he openly questioned anyone who assumes Anthony will struggle to fit in.
"I think that's ludicrous in a sense. Until you prove it, it's like anything else," the coach said.
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.