As of this sentence, there are two hours remaining until the Knicks get destroyed by the Indiana Pacers*. Carmelo Anthony will likely shoot 11-29 and after the game he’s going to preface what he really feels is the problem with the Knicks ("guys not doing X, Y, Z") with the mandatory "I need to do better" hissed through his teeth. He will be partially right. As the Knicks only legitimate scoring threat, Melo does need to do better, and the team is indeed not doing X, Y, or Z (defending, creating scoring opportunities, and putting it effort). The team wanders about puzzling over just what is preventing either one from fixing itself (or at least pretending to, because the real answer nobody associated with the team can acknowledge is much more frightening) when the (surface) solution’s as easy as connecting the dots.
Carmelo Anthony does not want to be in New York. No amount of backflips and media niceties can change what "I want to test the free agent market" means. That’s an "I’m not sure where this relationship’s headed" if there ever was one, and indeed Melo carries the demeanor of a man who is waiting out the next few months to break up with his girlfriend after he makes an appearance with her at a wedding they RSVP’d to a year ago. The Knicks know it, too. This show they’re making about clearing cap room to let Love in is the desperate bargaining of a jilted lover who decided that Melo was "the one," when Melo’s heart left long ago, baby, and it’s 70 more games until the charade comes to a merciful end. Everything about his play’s been as perfunctory as can be. It’s difficult to make 40 points look perfunctory, but Melo somehow manages it, seemingly letting out an exasperated "fuck it" before every shot or drive to the basket. When it’s the fourth quarter and the Knicks play their time-honored strategy of "give it to Melo and pray," of course they collapse. Letting Melo do what he wants for twelve minutes is the equivalent of surrender.
So imagine you’re part of the supporting cast of the Knicks, and your bona fide stud and supposed leader looks like he doesn’t give two shits about whether he wins or loses, and the only player who consistently plays at a high level with real energy broke his leg, and your owner says it’s championship or bust, and he took the team’s pretty girls away because you don’t deserve them or something, and your next two scoring threats are J.R. "Hopefully Hot" Smith and Andrea "Sloth Love Chunk" Bargnani, and Amare Stoudemire might as well be crying "oil can" at this point—I think you’d agree that were you a part of the circus that is The Knicks, your effort would start waning. Defenses would get lax, passes would be bad, jump shots would go up with no real intention of going in. The only hope you have to be competitive doesn’t care. Why should you?
This is not an indictment of Mike Woodson, who likely has the single hardest job in the NBA, dealing with an unhappy superstar and a near-certifiably insane owner. The Knicks would be damn well to keep Woodson and hope a Torre-Steinbrenner relationship emerges with him and Dolan where the smart person’s influence ultimately outweighs that of the crazy man glowering upstairs. Hell, this isn’t even a (total) indictment of Carmelo Anthony. He may not have the character of a winner, but he is a rational thinker who understands that he needs a championship and is part of an organization that is nowhere close to getting one. This is just the Knicks stuck in Starbury volume 2, making the same mistakes they always have: banking everything on a sexy purchase and ignoring hustle, defense, and team play because James Dolan does not understand what winning basketball looks like and his incompetence has the team philosophically broken for likely another twenty years, so strap in, Knick fans, because terrible jump shots and fourth quarter collapses and inexplicably abysmal teams are your life until either you or Jimmy goes.