The Knicks' failures over the last three seasons should be as much of a reflection on Phil Jackson as anyone else. He's failed to put the right pieces in place and his constant retooling has prevented New York from developing any real chemistry. With no reasonable fix in sight, there's little reason to believe he'll be able to turn things around.
Of course, Carmelo Anthony has been at the center of it all, too. One could have expected such a star talent to be the key to the Knicks becoming a competitive franchise again, but that simply hasn't happened. A team needs depth, but it also needs a leader to guide them. However, the front office failed to motivate its leader by showing him they were committed to a winning culture.
With the power of his no trade clause at his hands, Anthony knows he needs to make a decision that will be best for himself and the team.
"It's all on me," Anthony said after Wednesday's season finale. "I have a lot of thinking and reflecting to do. I'm pretty sure the organization has a thought of what they want to do, how they want to do it. So it's all on me."
"If [winning/competing] is not the direction they want to go in, all it is for me is communication. Communicate with me directly. If there's a direction you want to go in, I respect that. If it's something you want to build on, I'd respect that too."
Anthony said he felt a "shift in direction" for the Knicks shortly after the All-Star break and that he just came to terms with it. From there on out, he just tried to support his teammates amid the turbulent campaign.
"Just hearing that they have to come to work and deal with it, I know it was tough for them."
So much for a positive culture.
This season, Anthony finally appeared to let the frustration seep in and negatively impact his effort, ability, and attitude. He may have been there for his teammates, but Anthony failed by example without displaying good body language on the court. He looked dejected throughout much of this season as things really came to a head.
When it was time for Anthony to take the next step in his career and be a veteran leader following the Knicks' Atlantic Division title back in 2013, he failed. After spending his early years deferring to well-known veterans in leadership positions, Anthony couldn't step up in similiar fashion when it was time to do so. That's on him.
However, Jackson failed to recognize his star player needed more support until it was too late. That support, of course, could have come in the form of an improved roster, communication, respect, etc. Anthony hasn't received much of that during Jackson's executive tenure.
Still, up until this year, Anthony had accomplished quite a bit as an individual. As a hometown talent, he deserved his moment for a mutual display of admiration between he and the fans. It's nice to see he received that opportunity. He may not have been the veteran backbone, but the forward was the most talented player on New York's first division-winning team in nearly two decades. That's a rare feat.
Anthony has been a seven time All-Star during his time donning orange and blue. As the NBA's scoring champion back in 2013, his offensive prowess has been undeniable all along. He's one of the most exciting players in the NBA to watch get going and he certainly provided the team's fan base with moments to cheer and root for more.
Unfortunately, he failed to continue building on relevant successes. Jackson's lack of support may have had something to with it. For Anthony, it's a waste of time to continue in New York at this point in his career. On the flip side, New York needs to have some sign of a transitional shift to show where they're heading. Moving the player who makes the most money on a failing team would be an acknowledgment that changes are necessary (and forthcoming).
"There was a point and time where, after hearing about everything that was going on, that I was trying to figure out my next steps," Anthony said about the trade deadline. "But then again, there wasn't any communication. I didn't really know what direction to go in. There was a point and time where I didn't think I would be back here."
As everyone re-evaluates the situation once more, it's time for Anthony to take matters into his own hands and spearhead the communication. The offseason will start with his willingness (or perhaps, eagerness) to move on.