NBA All-Star weekend ended with a blast as the Eastern Conference All-Stars beat the Western Conference gunners led by Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant (38 points each)163-155 in the highest-scoring NBA All-Star game in history. The cameras were on and the celebrities were out in full swing.
Carmelo Anthony felt it was also the perfect time for him to get some spotlight redirected to the planet of New York, and in this latest edition of “The Melo-meter” the Knicks starting All-Star, who said at the beginning of the year that he was “looking forward to being courted in free agency,” now says he’s willing to take a “pay cut” to stay in NY if it gives the Knicks more flexibility to sign additional players.
Melo then put his vast talents on display by dropping 30 and hitting an All-Star Game record eight treys in helping MVP Krie Irving (31 points,14 dimes) bring it home for The East on Sunday.
“As far as the money, it doesn’t matter to me,” Anthony said in an interview with media in New Orleans on Friday . “If I go somewhere else, I get paid. If I stay in New York, I get paid. As far as money goes, it’s not my concern. My concern is to be able to compete on a high level, a championship level, coming in this last stretch of my career. I want to compete on that level.”
“I haven‘t had any in depth conversations with management about who I want to play with , what kind of team we should have,” Melo said. “I’ve never had those conversations. That time is going to come. When that time comes, everything will be laid out on the table... If they can counter that, we have along future ahead of us. “
That’s why Melo is one of the most intriguing personalities in the NBA. If not intriguing to some, then frustrating to most, because in October when the season had promise, he was already talking exit. Since that “vote of confidence,” the Knicks are 20-32 and this campaign has been a disaster of the worst proportions. Now Melo wants us to believe that he’s willing to sign for less bread to stay with the Knicks and ride it out?
He was in rare chirpy form, obviously feeling the love of All-Star weekend. Being surrounded by so many winners must have inspired his optimism because he also revealed during a 30-minute interview on Friday that “his first priority” is to stay with the Knicks, but is anxious for that pow wow with James Dolan after the season to hear the team’s plan on getting back to being championship-caliber. Let's salute the fact that Melo is finally going to ask some damn questions. However, has Dolan ever even had a plan? Does Anthony believe in miracles? What does he expect Dolan to tell him? Maybe the spirit of the Winter Olympics and the images of Team USA’s 1980 upset of the Soviet hockey team has changed his outlook.
A more realistic thesis is that Melo’s buying time and keeping the fans at bay until this miserable season ends. The Anthony’s are playing a masterful game of chess. The counter-move to Melo’s preseason proclamation that he’s testing the waters was wife La La telling Bravo TV,"I definitely think he'll stay (in New York).”
Now, he has strategically put the onus on James Dolan to secure his return. This way, when Melo bounces he can say that Dolan didn’t tell him what he needed to hear in that postseason meeting and he felt like he needed to go in another direction to win a championship.
You know, the BS: “I wanted to stay in NY guys, but your owner is clueless and remaining a Knick would just further damage my legacy.”
On one hand, Melo insists that his decision will be based on chasing those rings and things. On the other hand, If Anthony likes what he hears, he said he’s confident he’ll remain a Knick long term. That’s a risky commitment because the Knicks track record with building teams is suspect at best. He also says that the Knicks aren’t considering trading him at the Feb. 20 deadline. “I know for a fact that I’m not being traded,” he insisted, “and I know for a fact I’m not going in there saying I want to be traded.”
Melo has $33 million more reasons to stay with the Knicks and ultimately that will be the deciding factor. Anthony can sign a five-year, $129 million package in July as a free agent and the Knicks still could have max cap space in 2015 for another star free agent such as Kevin Love or Rajon Rondo. And if Anthony takes less, it could allow the Knicks even more spending opportunities. If Anthony signs with a new team, under collective bargaining agreement procedures, he would have to take much less money and one year less on a max deal.
Melo says that’s not a problem either way. "Any opportunity I have to build that up in New York, I’d do it," Melo gushed. "I told people all the time, if it takes me taking a pay cut, I’ll be the first one on Mr. Dolan’s step saying: “Take my money and let’s build something strong over her.”
Either da god thinks we are idiots or he is very confused and emotionally torn about his impending free agency. Being a Brooklyn-born superstar on an NBA Championship-team is probably a legitimate dream of Melo’s. While most veteran “superstars” have pillaged the Knicks’ piggy bank and left pennies, Melo genuinely appears to love balling in the Rotten Apple, and he desperately wants to win.
His sudden loyalty is endearing, however it’s hard for any Knicks fan to believe what he’s talking because we know the tract record of Dolan and the Knicks front office. Some Knicks loyalists acknowledge Melo’s intentions to speak with Dolan as a sign that Melo’s taking ownership of this Knicks team and committing to ending his career here with a c’hip.
Don’t get it twisted. This is not Kobe strong-arming LA into getting Pau Gasol. For one, the Knicks get heisted, they don’t do the heisting.
Moreover, Melo doesn’t feel it’s his responsibility to motivate Dolan & Co. to make the necessary moves to win a championship for the first time in 41 years.
“Even as a fan of New York, not me talking, they should want to make the situation better “Melo added in an ESPN interview on Friday. “They should want to have us competing at a championship level just for the sake of fans of New York and the organization, what it stands for, the history of the organization. They should want to be in those talks when they’re talking about who’s the best team.”
What the Knicks should do always seems a bit different from what they will do. Melo knows this and that’s why he’s all over the place with it as well. The Knicks have that effect on people. The franchise wears on players and breaks them down like an abusive spouse. For most players, leaving NY is like busting out of a madhouse. We also know that basketball isn’t a charity sport. Players don’t just leave money on the table, but All-Star weekend means even more to players from teams like the Knicks, with few first-half positives to draw on. Melo’s vulnerable right now, and drunk off that All-Star Ciroq. Bet you a big bottle of Henney that he’ll sober up really soon and will be spitting a different tune.