The New York Knicks destroy everything they touch. It has been an accepted fact of life for the better part of the last 15 years, and never has it been more apparent than these past few months. The basketball world looked on with the bemusement of a crowd at a gladiator match as Carmelo Anthony was subjected to the same line of questioning every single day: Will you waive your no-trade clause? Will you leave New York this summer? Don't you want to play for a contender? You need to leave New York to play for a contender, right? What about that no-trade clause?
Knicks press conferences these days are like watching the torture scene at the end of Braveheart, only without the merciful beheading at the end.
Rookie phenom Kristaps Porzingis is obviously aware of the madness surrounding his teammate. What may come as surprise is that -- despite the events of recent months -- the young Unicorn seems confident that his veteran teammate will return, as he expressed to Stefan Bondy last weekend:
"I need to No. 1, to learn from him. And to win. We need him to win," Porzingis told The News. "Without him it would be much more difficult. Him leaving would be tough but I'm not worried about that, I don't think it's going that way. He's been loyal. I think he loves New York. And that's the most important thing."
The timing here is important: Over the past three games, Melo and Kristaps have averaged damn near 50 points between the two of them:
The two forwards have been making beautiful music together.
It was a pleasant reminder of what has been a season-long trend. Put simply, the New York Knicks have been a good basketball team this season when Melo and Kristaps share the court, with a net rating of +1.4 in 1501 minutes. That's roughly the equivalent of the 7th-seed Indiana Pacers. Even with Porzingis's occasional rookie hiccups and Melo's shooting troubles, even while dragging behind them arguably the worst backcourt in the NBA, the dynamic duo have elevated New York to the level of a postseason team ...
... at least in those 1501 minutes. Sadly, they can't always play together:
|Melo/KP on together||1501||+58|
Yeah, that's where the front office comes in. But we shouldn't ignore how much Melo seems to enjoy playing with Porzingis, and how much Porzingis looks up to Melo. It's a beautiful partnership, and as the past three games have shown, it has survived nearly two months of nonstop Knicksian corrosion.
The no-trade clause makes this summer a relatively simple proposition: If Carmelo Anthony doesn't want to leave, he's not leaving. Judging by his comments, and the comments of those around him, it certainly seems as if he doesn't want to leave. If it means the continuation of the Melo/Kristaps duo, then it would only be fitting. Melo was supposed to be angry over Kristaps' selection in the draft, the 31-year-old Melo wasn't supposed to get along with a skinny 20-year-old kid from Latvia, the two nominal power forwards weren't supposed to be able to succeed together on the court, and now it seems as if Melo is supposed to move on to a contender.
Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis have never really made sense as teammates, at least on paper. But they work on the court, and given a better supporting cast, they just might dominate.