New York Knicks fans have generally been unhappy since the middle of May. From the second it became clear Lance Stephenson and Roy Hibbert were going to substantially outplay JR Smith and Tyson Chandler in the playoffs to the unpopular Andrea Bargnani trade, there has been plenty of loathing among the fan-base. The splashes by Brooklyn this off-season have only accentuated the angst. Hovering over this pessimism is the fear of Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert’s long term future with the team. There is already chatter about Anthony opting out after this season and Shumpert being unhappy with the organization, who is reciprocating the displeasure. Is it panic time?
There is greater financial incentive for Anthony to lock himself into New York long term, which of course plays to the Knicks benefit. Some have suggested that by the end of next season, Anthony will be willing to take a financial hit to better his chances of chasing a ring and because the Knicks cannot put a legitimate contender around him.
Currently the Knicks have a team in place that should compete for an Atlantic Division title and be a 3-5 seed in the Eastern Conference. There is no reason to think they won’t be in the same situation the following year. After next season, they will have cap space to retool around Anthony as Amare Stoudemire’s albatross of a contract will finally come off the books, among multiple others. Are the Knicks the Heat, Thunder or Spurs? No. Are they in position to be a solid playoff team for the foreseeable future with Anthony at the helm? Yes.
Many assume Anthony will be jetting off to join some type of “Super Team” in Los Angeles along with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant or in another location that will pair him with at least one other legit “superstar.” Yet, the logistics of such a move are easier to type on a computer than actually happen in practice. It will take multiple moving parts to break a certain way for an opportunity to arise that gives Anthony a situation with a substantial advantage for a ring more than New York will.
The Knicks recent history and ownership never allows you to feel entirely comfortable about any situation. Despite Anthony’s professed love for New York and James Dolan apparently always being willing to cater to him, all it takes is one negative interaction or bit of press interpreted a certain way by the “braintrust” of MSG to make the situation go sour. Ultimately, it is a safer bet the Knicks will find a way to satisfy Anthony and lock him down long term but it isn’t irrational to feel some uneasiness about the situation.
Shumpert’s relationship with the team has been rumored to be unsteady. Some of the sources on this deserve questioning but Shumpert, despite being the team’s best young player and asset, doesn’t have the clout of Anthony. A savvy team would currently be angling on the best way to insure Shumpert is Anthony’s wingman for the next 5-7 years but again, this is JD & The Straight Shot we are talking about. You can’t write off the Knicks allowing Shumpert to eventually walk in free agency or being traded, if some spiteful situation arises. This is a scary reality all Knicks fans do have to be prepared to deal with, even if it isn’t very likely.
Until long term contracts are signed by Anthony and Shumpert, there is going to be a level of discomfort among fans on the Knicks long term prospects. This the reality of life under Jimmy Dolan.