As Knicks Tumble Again, Carmelo's Future May Be All to Watch

Carmelo Anthony still believes the Knicks can win and still wants to be in New York when they do.

Another January collapse makes it easier to wonder if either will happen.

The Knicks have fallen off the playoff pace, again proving they can win headlines but not games. It seems like the same old story in New York, even though Anthony still thinks they can change the ending.

"Yeah, we will," he said. "I still believe."

The question is whether the Knicks still believe in him.

A piece by Charley Rosen last week was heavily critical of Anthony, saying his legs are "going, going, almost gone" and that "the only sure thing is that Carmelo Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York."

Criticism of Anthony is nothing new, but this came from a longtime confidant and former assistant coach of Phil Jackson, leading to speculation that those were the same thoughts of the Knicks' president of basketball operations.

Anthony said Sunday after a loss in Toronto that maybe he needed to speak to Jackson if that's the way he felt, but he said Monday he didn't need a discussion to get any clarity.

"My clarity is playing ball right now and getting some wins," he said. "If they want to come talk to me, I'm around them guys every day. So I don't want this to be kind of going back and forth between me and the front office and management, because there's really nothing."

Anthony has a rarely given no-trade clause in his contract and would have to agree to any deal. It wouldn't be easy to find one, given the 32-year-old Anthony's contract and age, and Rosen said it was understood that Anthony would agree to a trade only to the Cavaliers or Clippers.

But Anthony insists he wants to stay in New York, even while doing so seems to ensure he will retire without an NBA championship.

"I think I've proven that," Anthony said. "I don't have to speak on that. I think I've proven that over the years, day in and day out, regardless of what's going on that's surrounding this team, any talk, anything."

That was Monday after a 108-107 loss to Atlanta, the Knicks' 11th in 13 games. They began the second half of their schedule at 18-24 ahead of a difficult back-to-back against Boston and Washington, two of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference, setting up what seems a critical point if they are going to turn things around.

They have missed the playoffs in each of Jackson's two full seasons since arriving in 2014 but believed that could change when they traded for Derrick Rose and signed veterans Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings. But they haven't been able to halt the same kind of January slide that knocked the Knicks out of playoff contention and led to Derek Fisher's firing last year, and the losing and chaos in the newcomers' organization seems to be weighing on them.

Rose skipped a game without even telling the team last week, saying he returned to Chicago for family reasons. Lee was dropped from the starting lineup Monday as coach Jeff Hornacek tried to shake things up and Jennings was asked afterward if the losses were getting more frustrating.

"Yeah, because we should be doing something, we could be doing something special here," he said.

They remain short-handed, with forward Kristaps Porzingis sidelined by a sore left Achilles tendon. Perhaps he can return soon and help stop the skid.

If not, the only thing to watch in New York will be whether Anthony is still around after the Feb. 23 trade deadline.

"We're trying to stay positive around here, trying to gather the troops and still believe in one another," Anthony said. "Of course we want to win, but at the end of the day, guys know that we're all we have and we got to have each other's back during this time."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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