A few weeks into the 2014-15 season, a handwritten message appeared on the whiteboard in the New York Knicks‘ locker room.
“The pain that you have been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming … Romans 8:18.”
The message was designed to give hope to a Knicks team in the opening stages of a free fall, but the words take on a new meaning now for Carmelo Anthony as he heads to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-rounder.
It’s a transaction that shakes up the NBA and makes a Western Conference power even more dangerous. It was eerily similar in scope to the three-team, 12-player trade that sent Anthony to New York seven years ago. In many ways, Anthony’s legacy as a Knick can be summed up in the same way you’d describe these two trades: extremely complicated.
Early in the 2014-15 season — a few months after Anthony signed a $124 million deal to remain with the New York Knicks — he was already having second thoughts about his decision.
After one vexing home loss, Anthony shared his frustration with a few friends at the arena. One friend summed up Anthony’s mindset at the time: “He said he should’ve signed with Chicago.”
It wasn’t the last time Anthony questioned his decision to re-sign with the Knicks. Over the next three seasons, it became clear that Anthony and New York, under team president Phil Jackson, were stuck in one of the NBA’s most dysfunctional relationships.
So now that it’s over, how do you unpack Anthony’s time with the Knicks?
Some will remember him as a ball-stopper whose preferred style of play ultimately impeded the Knicks’ ability to win. There’s merit to that theory.
Others will hang on to the idea that Anthony never had a chance to truly succeed in New York because of the Knicks’ perpetual roster and coaching instability. There’s plenty to support that point as well. As is usually the case, the truth probably lies somewhere in between.
The raw results during Anthony’s Knicks tenure aren’t pretty. New York never advanced past the second round of the playoffs, and the club missed the postseason entirely in each of the past four years. The Knicks finished 207-269 during Anthony’s six full seasons and went 1-3 in playoff series.
But how much of that was Anthony’s fault?
His six-plus seasons in New York were filled with constant turnover. A half-dozen executives and coaches were hired and fired during Anthony’s tenure. He had 72 different teammates in his past six seasons….