When basketball fans hear the name Carmelo Anthony, plenty of accomplishments come to mind.
He's a 10x All-Star, a scoring champion and he's been part of multiple All-NBA teams. This past summer, he became the first American basketball player to win three Olympic gold medals. Additionally, Anthony has averaged over 20 points per game since his rookie season and has received praise as one of the hardest players to defend in the league.
The only thing missing from Anthony's professional resume is a championship, and it has been ever-elusive since his first days in Denver. Many analysts and writers speculate whether he'll eventually win one or not, and according to Phil Jackson, the Knicks' president of basketball operations, he might never reach that goal.
"We've not been able to win with him on the court at this time," Jackson said back in April.
In the wake of Jackson's comments, Anthony's future is now a toss-up, as he is not receiving the attention Jackson had hoped for earlier in the season. Tyler Conway, of Bleacher Report, indicated that a couple of executives in the National Basketball Association are concerned with Anthony's value as a player as a result of Jackon's statements.
It is important to acknowledge that Anthony is, in fact, a winner.
Flashback to 2009, we see Anthony and his Denver Nuggets, a team that went 54-28, reaching the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, who would go on to win the title. The Nuggets lost that series 4-2, but Anthony showed excellent promise all throughout. He scored 30 or more points three times against the seemingly unstoppable Kobe Bryant, and although Anthony was unable to guide the Nuggets to the Finals, he was one of the main reasons they got as far as they did.
Sometimes, things happen and change the course of the game, and that's what happened with Anthony back in the day. Despite the help from J. R. Smith, Chauncey Billups, and Nene, the Nuggets just weren't able to overcome a Lakers team that wound up being too much of a powerhouse. Regardless, the winning culture of Anthony and his peers was still existent.
Two seasons later, Anthony was traded to the New York Knicks to join forces with Amar'e Stoudemire who was already exiting his prime years as a professional basketball player. The assumption was that they'd work together well and turn the Knicks into a contender once more. However, this was obviously not the case. It took a couple of years before the Knicks found any rhythm and scoring force.
Jumping ahead to 2012-13 where the Knicks ended the season with a 54-28 record, comparable to the Nuggets. They looked like the real deal again, as they won the Atlantic Division and both Anthony and Smith won accolades. It was the Indiana Pacers who ultimately eliminated the Knicks from playoff contention. Anthony, again, led the way to what seemed like a runaway series. There's no telling how the Knicks would have performed against the Miami Heat that year, considering they were playing, arguably, their best basketball that season. Also, the playoff version of LeBron James is a whole other animal when compared to the regular season. The Knicks had the unfortunate circumstances of Jason Kidd disappearing as a scoring option along with the other vets who were instrumental in the Knicks' success that season.
Again, some things just aren't meant to be.
Following the 2012-13 season, the Knicks' roster had some alterations that were initially perceived as quality changes. Andrea Bargnani, the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, joined New York as a result of the Steve Novak trade, which wound up being one of the major fails the Knicks' front office committed to.
Bargnani proved to be a poor defender, as well as a sub-par shooting threat from beyond the arc. Tyson Chandler was injured for much of the season and Raymond Felton became a problem due to off-court issues. Anthony was, once more, the core element of a team without scoring options. Smith was lackluster, and much of the veterans were long gone. This started the crumbling of the Knicks' organization.
Come 2014-15, a season many Knicks fans wish to forget. The Knicks ended with a franchise-low 17-65 record backed by a roster filled with D-League talent, at best. Anthony practically gave up half of the season, as the Knicks' hopes for playoffs were pretty much lost before the All-Star Break. No one, not even his greatest critics, could blame him for opting to rest his injured knee instead of playing for an unachievable goal. One of the worst seasons in the Knicks' history allowed the Knicks to strike gold in Kristaps Porzingis, the fourth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
As the 2015-16 NBA season opened up, there was no definitive proof that Porzingis would be the talent the Knicks needed for a playoff push. As the year went on, the negative energy in New York started to convert into confidence, and the Porzingis/Anthony dynamic looked like an excellent result of trial and error. Anthony finally had help, from a rookie no less. The Knicks would finish the year with a 32-50 record, falling out of reach of the playoffs once again. Jackson actually assembled a decent lineup, too, which made that season hurt just as bad. Again, an improvement was needed and Anthony needed more help on the court.
We finally reach the 2016-17 season where, on paper, the New York Knicks had the potential to leave a strong impression on the league. Derrick Rose, coming off of one of his healthiest seasons to date, and Joakim Noah, the former Defensive Player of the Year, joined forces with Anthony and threatened to be a juggernaut in the Eastern Conference. Courtney Lee also signed on with the team looking to add his defensive aggression and three-point shooting to a roster with a major need for it. Porzingis had an entire summer to develop and didn't disappoint in his sophomore season. Noah and Rose wound up being injured for several games at a time, and so did Porzingis. Lee and Anthony were left to fend for themselves with a roster of rookies and role players. Hell, Brandon Jennings didn't even want to commit to a full season with the team and he brought some of the scrappiest defense on the team.
After all is said and done, Anthony just simply hasn't had the supporting cast he used to have back in Denver. Even though Billups was, arguably, the only star talent Anthony was paired with in those days, the remaining players on the Nuggets roster still offered a lot more than some of Anthony's future teammates.
The closest Anthony has come to the success he saw in Denver was in 2012-13 where Kidd and other seasoned veterans were around to show off their basketball IQ. Phil Jackson's comments have, as reported above, had a negative impact on Anthony's trade stock, even though the primary objective of the Knicks' front office is to move Anthony before the start of next season.
Simply put, Carmelo Anthony is still a winning player. Even at age 32, he is one of the purest scorers in the league. One of his biggest flaws is how much he slows down the pace of the offense by way of isolation play, but under the right coaching that can be manipulated for a more positive result. No matter where Anthony ends up this offseason, he will bring solid production to his team. There's a reason he was the third overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. Similarly, there's a reason he managed to win a NCAA Championship. Anthony is a unique talent, and it's sincerely saddening to see what he has to go through in this league.