Carmelo Anthony is is headed to the All-Star Game. As the oldest participant, he's still holding his place amongs the league's best players. Both Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez (New York's biggest assets for the future) will take part in the weekend's festivities as well, participating in the Rising Stars Challenge. The Knicks have representation with feel-good stories to follow. All seems well, at least for a few days.
The next time the Knicks play, however, will be after the NBA trade deadline has passed --- five hours later, to be exact. Coincidentally, they'll face the Cavaliers. Will Anthony be in town suddenly donning a different uniform?
Kevin Love's injury may make that difficult for the teams to accomplish. As it is, Love and his current contract isn't exactly the ideal return value for the Knicks. If and when they deal Anthony, New York needs flexibility, assets, future building blocks, etc. Love doesn't exactly fit that bill.
Given the power Anthony has in this situation, the other options are slim and it may be best to wait until the offseason to explore the possibilities and see if any more materialize. At this point, it wouldn't be surprising to see Anthony stick around, at least for the rest of the season.
What would a stay of execution for the forward mean for the direction (near and far) of this Knicks franchise? If they still plan to explore trade options for Anthony in the offseason, will New York choose to look toward the future right now? That would mean playing the team's youngsters a bit more. Perhaps there's also the possibility that the team still deals players like Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Kyle O'Quinn, and/or Lance Thomas before the deadline.
Trading Anthony would spark a clear change in direction for this franchise. It would make sense if other veterans depart as well. If they plan on keeping Anthony temporarily, however, acting accordingly and planning ahead would allow them to stay that specific course and make the necessary moves that can be made in the meantime. With an expiring contract and plenty of talent, the Knicks should be most motivated to deal Rose before their time is up. It's better to get value back if they simply plan on letting him walk.
The Knicks are just four games out of a playoff spot. They have the talent that everyone thought was going to be able to compete. Two teams currently holding potential playoff spots in the Eastern Conference have records below .500. If the Knicks decide to stay pat, perhaps there's still time to turn things around.
Would a late playoff push, simply to get ousted in the first round by a superior team, be worth the future implications? Aiming to contend now could cost the Knicks a desirable draft pick that could help them lay the foundation for a much more promising future.
That doesn't seem like a worthwhile sacrifice. The team should keep this in mind as they consider trading other players and how to play the rest of this campaign out. Anthony or no Anthony, the decision should be the same. The Knicks may not be able to deal Anthony before the forthcoming deadline, but they will have to strike a deal and spark a change some point soon.