New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said he was focused on team growth instead of his individual futre after the Knicks lost their last regular-season game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
"I don't think about that -- not right now,'' Anthony said when asked if he thought Sunday's game was his last home game as a Knick, according to the New York Post's Marc Berman. "I can't think about that. My mindset is figuring out how we're going to better this situation and grow as a team, grow as an organization.''
Anthony, who had expressed frustration with the organization and had been the subject of trade rumors earlier this season, said his message to Knicks fans was to not give up on the team despite losing 27 of their last 37 games heading into Tuesday's season finale against the Indiana Pacers.
"I don't think it's time to give up on us just yet," Anthony said, according to the New York Daily News' Stefan Bondy. "If you're a fan, you're a fan. The ones who are not fans are the ones who aren't going to stick around and not going to be a fan. So I appreciate the true fans who stick with this for the past couple of seasons, knowing the situation at hand and understanding how us as players feel. The feeling is mutual. I don't think there's a need to give up on their team right now."
Sunday's game, a 93-89 loss to the Toronto Raptors, was Fan Appreciation Day, and Anthony said he wishes the team didn't have to bid farewell to its fans so early.
"Even though it's Fan Appreciation Day and we're thanking the fans but, as players, we want this to be a welcoming into the postseason," Anthony said. "We want to be looking forward to gearing up and tightening up some screws and bolts and preparing for the postseason. And we shouldn't get used to this feeling and having Fan Appreciation Night this early."
Phil Jackson has gotten Anthony to buy in and keep the faith thus far, and it's likely the star forward won't be the one to push for a trade this coming summer. In giving the Knicks a longer stay of execution, it would make sense for Anthony to see things through and give Jackson this offseason: one more chance to make the necessary improvements.
When and if Jackson does so, the pressure will somewhat be on Anthony yet again to lead the way. This past season, Jackson did a respectable job of surrounding his star forward with relatively strong role players (Arron Afflalo, Robin Lopez, Derrick Williams, etc.) at reasonable rates. Throw in Kristaps Porzingis and the ever developing Jerian Grant, and the Knicks have a solid core.
It's up to Anthony, not only to remain healthy, but to be an all-around team player. He undoubtedly succeeded in doing so this year, but this past campaign proved that even one of Anthony's best career seasons isn't enough to carry New York. A fundamentally sound and persuasive coaching staff (preferably one with experience and some staying power) is imperative.
This season's struggles are further proof that regardless of how talented a roster may look on paper, the appropriate coaching staff is still the glue that holds everything together. Having a void there causes everything to fall apart instead.
Anthony hasn't been negative in his comments towards interim head coachKurt Rambis, but he certainly hasn't given him a ringing endorsement. He wants the Knicks to explore any and all worthwhile options. What's more, he's preached (and arguably nearly begged for) roster continuity for two straight seasons now. It may be a little bit more reasonable to ask for now --- the Knicks are talented, though certain voids are still present.
Declaring a need and desire for roster continuity is only further evidence that in Anthony's mind, an improved coaching staff is what this team needs, even if he doesn't come right out and say it.