Carmelo Anthony has no D as in defense and discipline. When the times are good, send him the accolades. When times are tough, let Amare and Chauncey stand tall and take the heat. Not going to tell the Knick fans I told you so because I have never really weighed in much on this topic as I tend to be blinded by Laker purple, gold and home whites this time of year. But had I weighed in...Hey Knicks I told you so!
First of all, let's get it out in the open, Melo is a great offensive talent. He can shoot, drive, and when he wants, rebound. However, he is an isolation player when you get into your set halfcourt offense. When the team is on the break, only a few players finish better. The problem is he is like some countries, he is an isolationist in a world that depends on sharing. Coach D'Antoni's offense requires passing, movement, good screens and open looks. It is a quick, bang bang offense that scores alot of points. Carmelo likes to dribble or settle for a jump shot. He really doesn't know what an assist looks like. The Knicks otherwise fast offense can slow to a turtle pace with Mr. Anthony. I am not saying that D'Antoni's offense is great but it is exciting. However, I would rather a team win than always score alot of points-just ask Steve Nash and all the former Suns who saw many efforts to go to a Finals wasted because of the sole emphasis on uptempo offense and no defense. So, not all the blame goes to Melo but he is the new guy who made a big deal of coming to the Big Apple...he supposed to have big shoulders.
With Amare, the Knicks have a blossoming leader who is putting the team first and doing whatever it takes for his team to succeed. This is a far cry from the days when he would pout in Phoenix. Amare understands the responsibility of being a big time star in the biggest city with grand expectations. He continues to develop his leadership skills while playing some defense and embracing New York fans on nites when he is on his game and nites when he is not. He is the new and developing leader.
With Mr. Big Shot, Chauncey Billups, the Knicks have an established leader with NBA final experience and international experience. Yes, he is on the downside of his career but his leadership and veteran instinct are so important for this team. He may not like it, but he has stepped out to shooting guard if he has to. Chauncey will abstain to Melo and Amare, but he shouldn't. He should exhort Amare and get on Carmelo. With this season pretty much an expectation of out in the 1st round, the Knicks need to lean on Chauncey to lead them and help them grow.
With these two leaders, why is it important that Melo lead and show commitment? No matter how you put it, he is the MAN. When he is on, he is REALLY on-ask the world in the Olympics when he played or ask the Lakers in their playoff series. He is downright scary. All he needs is perspective and I have mentioned that before. He needs to understand his role in the offense, defense, and on the team. He should search this out. One simple gesture to play better defense consistently will send the right signal to management, fans, his teammates, and to other teams who worry about the Knicks next year and beyond. As far as offense is concerned, Carmelo should just man up and play within the system AND be like Kobe...recognize when the system is not working and THEN takeover the game. As far as leadership is concerned, stay tight with Chauncey and develop your rapport with Amare.
Now, for the Knicks to truly succeed they need a few more pieces from a younger point guard to a defensive low post presence to some role players. Young point guard may be hard to find unless they figure out how to get someone like they had in Raymond Felton (ask the Lakers if you need a top 3 point guard to win)...and if Oklahoma City can get Kendrick Perkins than can't the Knicks get someone like him. Dallas got Tyson Chandler. Just someone to block some shots and block out. For role players, take a tip from Boston and LA-AND THIS IS WHERE MELO COMES IN-good role players want to play with stars that make the team better and have a chance to win a title. So Melo, grow and grow-put team first, play D, and send out invitations to role players who can make a difference. Did anyone ever think Kobe would play with Matt Barnes or Ron Artest? No, but his ability to put differences above the team and win is legendary (how about winning a 3rd championship when not even talking to Shaq).
Finally, the Knicks need to dump their Coach. Nice guy and fun offense, but keep that for teams like the Warriors or Suns who fill stands year after year but don't win in the playoffs. This is New York, Pat Riley, Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, Red Holzman, Bill Bradley and Willis Reed. Your heart and desire make you a star here. Ask the fans about Amare...he has done everything right and the fans love him. As far as the Coach, you need to have the team play a gritty defense where players trap and dive for loose balls. Your offense is run and gun so why can't your defense? Oh yeah, you think defense is rest time for your offense when the other team has the ball. I am sorry Coach D'Antoni, but move on to Milwaukee or wherever Sacramento ends up...run and run some more. Those fans will love you. New York fans want a winner and nothing less. They want to be relevant. That is why Coach Riley was loved when he was here because he made the Knicks matter. So, who do they hire...that is tough because there are not too many great coaches these days. Doc Rivers is good and will remain in Boston. Could you get Phil Jackson? If so, do it and do it as soon as the season is over. If not, what about Jerry Sloan or Larry Brown? I don't think so. Both are too old. Any college Coaches? Any assistants? Set your sights high, but look at X's, O's, and personality. If the Coach can't handle the NY press and make the Knicks matter than move on to the next candidate and I did not mention Isaiah. Sorry, but please ask him to bud out. Start with Coach K, Billy Donovan, Bill Self and top college coaches (don't laugh) or ask the Lakers about Brian Shaw...how about...Patrick Ewing in Orlando? Long shot, but a great long shot. Be great if he won a championship as a coach because he sure put in a lot of effort as a player.
So, Melo, man up and become a team first leader who demands the ball at crunch time, plays D, and is the face of the team even when you don't want to be. Amare, hang in there, you are fun to watch and a joy to New York. Chauncey, let's hope the Knicks keep you as you are a class act who deserves the best. Knick management-keep moving forward and get whatever pieces you need to continue to increase the win columns and start by getting rid of D'Antoni.