The reality of the Knicks 5-31 record, and the rash of injuries that has limited the roster, promotes a change in philosophy for the season. And with Carmelo Anthony dealing with a sore knee that has caused him to miss three (and a half) of the last nine games, the question that comes up involves whether or not the Knicks star should continue to play on the injured knee.
Derek Fisher on Friday acknowledged there have been conversations about exactly that lately with Melo.
“I think everybody is smart enough to realize, calendar-wise, timing-wise, that there may come a point that’s the decision that needs to be made,” Fisher said. “But that we can’t force Carmelo to that point just yet.”
It’s never an easy thing for a player, especially a star player, to do when his team is struggling the way the Knicks are this season; to shut down for the year and leave them to finish up.
“It’s a thin line to where you want to be labeled as a player, somebody who fought through pain and injury or somebody who played it safe,” J.R. Smith said. “But at the same time, Melo has been doing what we have been asking him to do. It’s just right now he just physically can’t do it.”
After Saturday’s practice, Fisher put the brakes on the idea of shutting Melo down for the season.
“I don’t think ‘shutting down’ is the conversation that we’re having,” he said.
Fisher went on to explain that Melo might likely be shut down for this week, which involves five games in seven days and two back-to-backs. But then the Knicks have a long break between games, with the trip to London to play the Bucks on Jan. 15 as a potential return date.
That game, by the way, is Game 41. The halfway point of the regular season.
There are then only 13 games until another important point in the season for Melo: All-Star Weekend. It’s in New York City this season, with the game at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 15. Make no mistake about it, Melo wants to be in that game, on his home court.
It would be the 8th All-Star appearance of his career and the sixth straight. He’s been an All-Star starter in all but one of his appearances so far.
He’s currently third in the voting among frontcourt players in the East, along with LeBron James and Pau Gasol, which means he would again be a starter on All-Star Sunday at The Garden. It’s a position he certainly covets and you know Jordan Brand would love to have him, and his recently released M11’s, on that stage as well.
Perhaps after that game, he and the Knicks will re-assess where they are and what do do with the rest of the season.
The Knicks visit Memphis on Monday night, which means their first of two meetings with Marc Gasol, who will be the biggest name on the free agent market this summer. So far Gasol has said his plan is to think about free agency in July — but really, how is he not at least wondering about it? — but said he is keeping his options open.
“I won’t say no to anything right now,” he told the Los Angeles Daily News last week. “If it’s presented to me, I’ll think about it. If not, I won’t.”
10 DAYS TO MAKE IT
Starting Monday, teams can sign free agent players to 10-day contracts, which makes it a big day for D-League players looking to get a shot. There are several players in the D-League who could get picked up soon, such as the league’s leading scorer, Brady Heslip (27.7 points per game, 50% shooting from three-point range), or Steph Curry’s brother, Seth Curry, who is averaging 26.3 points and shooting 52.7% from three. 52.7%!
The Westchester Knicks have rookie Langston Galloway, a scoring guard who leads the team with 16.5 points per game and 44.7% shooting. The Knicks love his potential, but because of D-League rules they don’t own exclusive rights to him, so another team could sign him if they want.
Thanasis Antetekounmpo, however, is exclusive property of the Knicks because he was their second round pick. He can’t just be called up, however, as the team still would have to sign him to an NBA contract first.
And, of course, in order for the Knicks to sign anyone right now they’d first have to clear a roster spot because the roster is maxed out at 15.
SPACE JAM BLUE
Larry Johnson co-hosted this past week’s Nothing But Knicks show and in the Twitter segment, answered a few good questions from viewers, including this hypothetical from @harrycalat: “If asked, woudl you appear in Space Jam 2? And in a Knick uni?”
Warner Brothers are reportedly planning a sequel to Michael Jordan’s Space Jam movie, with LeBron James as the headliner this time joined by several other NBA stars. LJ appeared in the first Space Jam, along with Patrick Ewing, but back then LJ played for the Hornets and, therefore, was in teal. But this time around, if he’s asked, he said he’d be in blue and orange.
“I consider myself a Knick now,” LJ told me. “It’s where I finished, it’s where the majority of the best of my career was, right here at MSG. So I would do it in a heartbeat.”