With 26 games left to go in the season, the New York Knicks are 5.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the East. Let that sink in for a second. The eight seed Atlanta Hawks are on pace to win 39 games this season, to get there the Knicks need to go 18-8 the rest of the way.
It’s pretty hard to be optimistic if you’re a Knicks fan, especially after a loss to the Hawks this Saturday. Even if you are Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony has never missed the playoffs in 11 NBA seasons and was asked about possible missing the playoffs by Newsday:
“I can’t imagine what that’s like,” he said. “I’m not even trying to think about that at this point. We still got a lot of basketball to play.”
But Anthony admits his optimism is “definitely being tested” this season, and you wonder if his desire to stay with the Knicks is too.
Everything around the Knicks right now is about Anthony staying in New York.
At All-Star weekend Anthony said he would take less money to make the Knicks more competitive. Of course, if he’s taking less money he can do that by walking on to a Bulls team (after they amnesty Carlos Boozer) that is ready made to contend if Derrick Rose is healthy.
But Anthony wants to remain a Knicks.
“At the end of the day that’s my first priority, to stay,” Anthony said while meeting with the media in New Orleans All-Star weekend. “That’s my first priority. My priority is to figure it out, let’s figure it out together… My priority is not to just because I say I want to be a free agent, is to go leave. I never was a guy that comes into a situation and basically when it’s not going well to leave like that. That’s not my personality.”
But he also has to look at the Knicks roster and payroll situation and see that next season is going to look similar to this one — maybe they can make moves that shore up the perimeter defense and get the Knicks hitting threes again (two of the things missing from the 54-win team last year) but real improvement is not going to come until 2015 when the decks are cleared for some runs at free agents. Then, can the Knicks convince Rajon Rondo and/or Kevin Love to come?
It’s going to be an interesting summer for Carmelo Anthony. And each ugly Knicks loss makes it more interesting.