The NBA trade deadline is less than a month away, which gives the Knicks a limited amount of time to explore and pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal involving Carmelo Anthony.
While they could certainly wait until the offseason, moving Anthony sooner than later would give the team a clear direction as they start fresh and look toward the NBA Draft.
This certainly isn't where New York thought they'd be at this point in the season. After two failed campaigns under Phil Jackson, there's no doubt Anthony's clock to compete in his prime is ticking fast.
Instead of taking a page out of the 76ers' book and "trusting the process" around Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks made one big (final) push around Anthony, spending big and reeling in veterans like Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, and Lance Thomas in hopes this team could compete toward a meaningful playoff run. Whereas Rose's deal is an expiring contract, the Knicks made long-term commitments to many others.
The team's 20-27 record is only more indicative of the quality product (or lack thereof) Jackson has assembled and put on the floor over the course of his run as Knicks President. New York now owns a 69-142 record in the last two and a half seasons. If Jackson's goal was to remain competitive, his team has continued to fall well short of the mark.
Anthony has been the lone overwhelming constant on this squad through its familiar struggles. That should place a considerable amount of the blame on his shoulders. Nevertheless, one man can only make so much of a difference one way or the other.
The Knicks owe it to Anthony (and themselves) to come to terms with the failure to meet expectations. The team is three games out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with plenty of time left. But with a 4-10 record in 2017, it's worth coming to terms with the fact that fighting tooth and nail for mediocrity is not what Anthony or the organization had in mind. This experiment has failed and it's time to move on. That's becoming unfortunately clear.
Should New York ultimately decide to build toward the future, they'll need to embrace its young core. A group including players like Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Justin Holiday, and Ron Baker need to be motivated and made to understand that the opportunity to prove themselves is in the present.
There are sure to be veterans the Knicks would prefer to move, but won't be able to. If and when this team decides to embrace a full-on youth movement, these players can show their value and prove they have what it takes to contribute to whatever this organization builds moving forward.
There are sure to be many moving parts in any sort of deal involving Anthony. If and when he departs the Big Apple, who goes with him? Will more deals follow? Is New York going to hold a fire sale as the clock ticks closer to the deadline? All of that remains to be seen.
Prior to getting traded to the Knicks, a considerable amount of drama and speculation clouded his remaining time in Denver. It also impacted the culture of the Knicks and the other teams set to be part of the deal.
In the interest of maintaining order following any trade, it'd be best not to string this along. Dealing Anthony won't automatically mean disarray if Jackson and Co. can pick up the pieces and help those that remain lock in and focus. They can learn what not to do from Anthony's initial trade to New York.