The 10-22 record is not the biggest concern for the franchise –Anthony bolting town this summer is. Forget the fact that even if the Knicks sneak into the playoffs as a seventh or eighth seed, their chances of making a deep playoff run are slim to none with this current roster. As the team’s star player, Anthony has dominated headlines in the New York media since before the season even began when he stated he was looking forward to becoming a free agent.
Just so we understand what has transpired this season…
This week, an anonymous former teammate told the New York Daily News that Anthony will leave the franchise this summer because he knows he cannot win there.
Marc Berman of the New York Post also reported Wednesday that Anthony longs to play for a winner or with another star in a big market like Los Angeles or even in Chicago with Derrick Rose, according to a source.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who has many trusted inside sources throughout the league and reported the LeBron James to Miami story three weeks before it actually broke, said on his radio show Dec. 6 that Anthony wants out and is ready to move on.
Is the anonymous teammate tipping Anthony’s hand for him, that way his rationale for leaving this summer won’t be a shock like James leaving Cleveland was – so that the fan backlash isn’t parallel to Dwight Howard leaving Los Angeles?
Put the pieces of the puzzle together. Anthony has been and continues to line up his exit strategy now, planning to leave New York only IF the Knicks do not improve the roster or have a legit plan to win in place that Anthony believes in, a plan that shows owner James Dolan’s committment to winning.
That plan though, according to ESPN and multiple sources for some time now, is to have Rajon Rondo force his way to New York via trade, similar to how Anthony did. It is unknown what type of trade package the Knicks could send to Boston in exchange for Rondo, but it has to be their focus. Iman Shumpert, a bag of potato chips, free tickets to a Broadway show…Dolan needs to give Danny Ainge whatever he wants to get a deal done. Similar to Anthony’s belief about the Knicks, Rondo knows he isn’t winning anything with the current Celtics roster either. That is why it makes sense to join forces in Manhattan.
The Knicks cannot afford to strike out again.
They thought they hit a home run when they signed A’mare Stoudemire for $100 million (who was playing like an MVP candidate upon arrival) and then traded for Anthony, giving them two stars to build around, but Stoudemire has been injured and was a complete shell of his former self during the Knicks playoff runs the past few seasons.
Rondo would be the best player Anthony has played with in his ten years in the league and has the star power that Anthony seeks in order to stay in New York. He makes his teammates better – he proved that in Boston under Doc Rivers as the hardheaded, perverse leader playing with an aging Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. His style of play as an all-around, pass-first point guard would make everybody better on the Knicks roster, including Anthony.
Together, Anthony and Rondo could attract another top free agent in the summer of 2015 when over $49 million combined between Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani comes off the Knicks salary payroll. Somehow, someway, the Knicks must go all-in to get Rondo in order to keep Anthony. It’s that simple.
The future of their franchise depends on it.