Carmelo Anthony Needs to Make Up His Mind

Knicks, Nets and everyone else need an answer

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    It would be an awfully big stretch to say the reason why the Knicks got humiliated by the lowly Kings on Friday night was because Carmelo Anthony is still on the Nuggets.

    There were plenty of other plausible factors for their inability to show up for the game. It was the first home game after a long road trip, something that can make teams let down their guard, and the little aches and pains are starting to mount across their thin roster. On top of that, Danilo Gallinari still wasn't back from his knee injury and Ronny Turiaf left the game well before its conclusion.

    Still, though, shooting nights as bad as the one the Knicks had on Friday night make you think there's a mental aspect beyond simple exhaustion. The kind of mental aspect that might come about from players worrying that they might get traded to Denver at any moment because they can't go a day without hearing or seeing something about how Donnie Walsh is trying to come up with a way to get the Nuggets to engage him trade discussions. And Leon Rose, Anthony's agent, was in a conspicous spot near the court at the Garden.

    On top of that, there's the fact that the ongoing drama around Anthony's decision about whether he'll sign a contract extension with the Nets or not is keeping the Knicks from making any other moves. The need to keep pieces in place for a potential Anthony deal means that the Knicks can't do anything to address their needs for another big forward and a backup point guard capable of actually running an offense. There's a strong argument to be made that those needs are bigger than Anthony at this point, but it is clear that the Knicks don't want to take themselves out of the running for the big fish.

    The uncertainty isn't doing the Nets any favors either. It seemed for a time Sunday that things were getting close as reports indicated the Nets had permission to speak to Anthony directly. But Anthony and Avery Johnson both threw water on those claims and left things exactly where they were last week. There's less at stake for the Nets than the Knicks right this minute, but they also need to know if they are trying to build a team without Anthony or if they are trying to build one around him.

    Throw in all the teams  that might be part of deals leading to and/or resulting from an Anthony trade and you've got a good portion of the league waiting on the man to decide where he wants to play basketball.

    Anthony has every right to take as long as possible to make up his mind, but he isn't helping matters by sending mixed messages. Over the weekend he said that he was all about winning, something that any reasonable person would think eliminates the Nets from consideration and, more significantly, would be a signal to the Knicks that he'll leave some money on the table like LeBron James to sign with them in the offseason with their full roster in place. But he won't be explicit, at least not publicly, and that's more than a little frustrating for everyone involved.

    Someone is going to wind up very happy when Anthony joins their team, but whoever misses out will also have a smile on their face. Being allowed to move on with your life can do that for you.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.