On pace to miss the NBA postseason for the fourth straight season, Carmelo Anthony knows what losing is all about. Since the Knicks won the Atlantic Division title back in 2012-13, Anthony has slowly but surely seen all of the talented veterans from that successful squad depart the Big Apple. In turn, the spotlight casts its shadow more and more on the star forward. Anthony has been unable to deliver since then.
Things are finally appearing to come to a head with New York shopping Anthony more aggressively than ever before. The team is motivated to deal him, as the vision with him leading the Knicks back to the promise land hasn't come any closer to fruition.
As Anthony watches his closest friends and NBA counterparts chase and successfully capture NBA titles, he's arguably as far as he's ever been from one. This means it's time for a change all around. Nevertheless, Phil Jackson hasn't done himself or the team any favors. This organization has a negative vibe around it and the executive's recent comments and respective actions certainly haven't made things any easier for Anthony.
Unfortunately for the Knicks' future, Anthony may not be the only one suffering from this lack of positive culture. New York is motivated to shop Anthony, not only because things haven't worked out, but because they have a beacon of light in Kristaps Porzingis to turn to next. Still, this slow transition and negative atmosphere can't be doing the budding superstar any good. Anthony obviously has more experience with this by now, but Porzingis too is getting used to losing.
Through a season and a half, the young gun's Knickerbockers have gone 54-82. He's already been mentored by three head coaches. Teams have been known to change players from one season to the next: it's relatively normal. Nevertheless, after drastically changing the makeup of last year's squad, the revolving door would appear likely to keep swinging, given this season's shortcomings. More changes are coming.
The minute Anthony departs (if and when he does), a new transition will begin for Porzingis. He will be the centerpiece of the Knicks' universe in a post-Melo world. Of course, this will make things more difficult for an offensive player who is still trying to come into his own. Opposing defenses will gravitate towards him all the more often. As it is, the Knicks' gamble to have Joakim Noah support and mentor Porzingis defensively hasn't worked out. The veteran has proven unable to stay on the court. In turn, Porzingis is manning the middle and committing more fouls.
When the time comes, the pressure to win will no longer be Anthony's burden. Instead, it'll quickly shift to the shoulders of Porzingis. Given his young age, the window of opportunity is wider. Still, winning in New York is never truly an absent expectation.
The Knicks need to be careful that all of this doesn't stunt Porzingis' long term growth. He already knows what losing and dysfunction feels like. It's up to this organization to ensure that's not something he gets too used to. It can't be all he knows. New York has the power to control the timing of any Anthony deal. They can continue exploring options. The return value could be greater if they wait, but letting this linger could be worse for Porzingis long term.