Years ago when a man named LeBron James joined the Miami Heat and lost in their first trip to the NBA Finals, people were starting to ask if he’d ever win an NBA title. LeBron would go on to win not one, but two titles in his career thus far, putting away that topic of discussion. But LeBron was 27 when he won his first championship; Carmelo Anthony, now 31, has yet to win an NBA title, as well as even make it to the finals. With Carmelo currently in a rebuilding stage with the Knicks, you have to wonder when or if he’ll ever win a title.
In his 14 year NBA career, Carmelo has made the conference finals once as a member of the Denver Nuggets in 2009. While a member of the Nuggets they made the playoffs seven times, and since being traded to the Knicks in 2011, he’s made the playoffs three times, but never a conference finals appearance.
He signed a massive 5 year, $124 million dollar contract with the Knicks back in 2014. Carmelo also got a no-trade clause in his contract so he can’t be traded without his permission. This contract is now becoming a problem for the New York Knicks. This contract gives the Knicks little room to work with when it comes to signing big-name free agents. At the time the contract wasn’t bad; Carmelo was still one of the best players in the league and was coming off an amazing season. But with age comes injuries and Carmelo has been struck with several injuries, some that caused him to miss half the season in 2014-2015. And along with that, he’s in the midst of his worst scoring season since his second year in the league (22.1 ppg). It may appear that Carmelo’s career is slowly starting to downfall statistically.
In 2015, the Knicks got unlucky in the draft lottery, where they received the 4th overall pick when they were projected to get a better pick. To many fans displeasure, they went on to draft the 7’3 power forward from Latvia, Kristaps Porzingis. Nobody knew a thing about this guy and many felt he would be a bust. Fast forward to now and Kristaps is one of the best rookies this season, winning three Rookie of the Month awards while averaging 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. The Knicks got a nice, young player to pair with Carmelo and build around for the future.
But even with Kristaps, the Knicks are 30-46 currently and have been eliminated from playoff contention. Their record is still much better than last season, where they went 17-65, but look at the Knicks’ roster. There isn’t enough star and firepower to help out Melo and Kristaps. Look at what LeBron had to do to win his first championships in Miami. Instead of signing elsewhere while he was a free agent in hopes to win a title like LeBron, Carmelo decided to stay in New York instead and take more money. Obviously, right now it looks like he made the wrong decision.
With only a projected $19M in cap space this offseason with no first-round pick, it doesn’t appear like the Knicks can improve their roster substantially. They can’t make offers to guys like Kevin Durant or Demar Derozan since they’ll be requesting max contracts. $19 million is still a good amount of money, but with the contracts being given out today I’m not too sure what direction they’ll go in this offseason as far as signing guys. Maybe they’ll trade a player with a big contract to add some salary or trade for a first-round pick like they did last year and continue to add young guys to their roster.
That’s what the Knicks may do, but what about Carmelo? The older he gets the more impatient he’ll get. He just wants to win a championship. He is the only top-5 selection left from the 2003 Draft to not win an NBA championship (yes, that includes Darko). We heard trade rumors all year about where Carmelo might be traded, but Carmelo has a no-trade clause so he’d have to approve of the trade, and it seems he wants to stay put in New York. But how long will he want to? He sees all his buddies doing well on their respective teams (LeBron, DWade, and CP3), so wouldn’t he want to be as successful? I’m sure when he heard LeBron bring up that he wants to play with his group of friends in the future he was hoping this could happen soon. Carmelo will be an NBA Hall of Famer one day no doubt about it, but I’m sure he doesn’t want to go down as an NBA great that never won a ring.