Carmelo Anthony Needed to Play Until the All-Star Game


Hector Amezcua

Carmelo Anthony should not have risked further injuries by continuing to play until the All-Star Game, even if it took place in New York this year. (Photo Courtesy of Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via TNS)


Many Knicks fans and sports reporters have been critical of Carmelo Anthony and the organizational decision to allow him to play in the All-Star game this year. However, this is not the big problem that some people would lead you to believe. The All-Star game was in New York, and Anthony had been excited for some time to play “host” to his fellow superstars. This decision was a point of contention by many NBA spectators, as he was dealing with a nagging injury to his left knee that had hampered his play weeks before the All-Star game. Anthony’s choice, at worst, does not affect the Knicks much and at best actually has some tangible benefits for the embattled organization.

With the Knicks looking to recruit new talent during the eagerly-awaited summer of 2015, the All-Star weekend was the best opportunity for Phil Jackson and the organization to begin their search. An important part of this recruitment process was the networking of Carmelo Anthony. While his stats in the game were dreadful (6-20 from the field in a startlingly-high 30 minutes), it was important for curious free agents to experience playing with Anthony on the hallowed court of Madison Square Garden. While the rest of the organization lingered in the wings and salivated over the talent in town for the game, it was important for Anthony to provide a player’s insight for others.

Several of Anthony’s critics have also targeted his injury as a reason for him to get surgery immediately. With the Knicks going nowhere this season, Anthony’s season-ending surgery could really be done almost anytime. It is unlikely that Anthony would have seriously injured himself in the farce that is the All-Star game, so there is no problem with him playing in the exhibition. As long as Anthony is healthy and rested for the start of the 2015-16 campaign, his surgery timetable should be of no concern to any of the fans.

Another interesting byproduct of Anthony’s absence is giving the young prospects and veterans formerly on 10-day contracts a chance to show what they’ve got. The rest of this season is not just garbage time to continue tanking for a high draft pick, the Knicks need to start assembling a capable bench to back up the starting talent that the team hopes to acquire this offseason. Anthony, along with the recently-departed Amar’e Stoudemire, was taking minutes away from players that have something to prove: namely, that they can contribute and be part of championship-caliber bench. Young players like undrafted St. Joe’s product Langston Galloway and hard-nosed journeyman Lou Amundson have proven that they have the competitive drive and toughness to be part of a dangerous second unit in the NBA. While the games are meaningless for the 2014-15 season, these games are important for building the Knicks’ future. Jackson, Derek Fisher and the rest of the organization have to look strongly at which players can be a part of these future plans.

While Anthony’s decision to play in the All-Star game was controversial, there are no negative consequences of this action. He rubbed elbows with potential free agents and opened the door for the Knicks’ players of tomorrow to compete to be part of this team. Anthony’s recruitment was a worthwhile endeavor, but true fans know that the adage, “whoever needs to be recruited to New York does not belong here” still rings true.