By John Schmeelk
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The NBA All-Star Game is finally here.
That means New York City gets to see far better players than the Knicks or Nets have to offer. It also means this disastrous season Knicks fans have had to endure is more than halfway over.
And last but not least, it also means Knicks fans finally get to say farewell to the nonsensical drama surrounding Carmelo Anthony and his knee.
While the Anthony situation has been much discussed, everyone has to be careful when dissecting his injury because no one really knows the facts behind it. Anthony has said the injury cannot be made worse by playing. Most speculated during the season that it was a loose cartilage situation that could be easily fixed after the season with a simple scope.
But then Anthony went and revealed it was some type of tendon issue, clouding the situation even more.
It wouldn't be responsible to go out and criticize a player for playing through an injury without knowing exactly what it is and what doctors have recommended he do in terms of treatment. If they really think it is just a pain-tolerance issue and there is no chance off additional injury, his playing doesn't matter. The fact that it's a tendon issue makes that harder to believe, but no one can know for sure. The Knicks medical staff's past performance doesn't exactly instill confidence, either.
What can be criticized is Anthony's obsession with playing in the All-Star game, to the point that playing in it almost appears to be more important to him than participating in regular season games.
Based on quotes from him and others, the appearance is that he has managed the knee simply to play in the All-Star game, and once it's over he will consider shutting himself down. Perhaps Anthony's words don't truly describe his true feelings, but he has done little to try to dissuade people from holding that perception. His actions certainly don't. He wasn't healthy enough to play against Orlando on Wednesday, but he'll be good to go for a meaningless game on Sunday? It is at the point where the perception might very well be worse than the reality, which is just as bad.
Other players in the league are skipping the All-Star game to rest so they can help their team win games when they count. It's understandable that Anthony would want to play in the game hosted in his home arena, but at some point there has to be an adult conversation about priorities. Even if he doesn't play in the game, Anthony could still be heavily involved in all the All-Star activities and be a part of the events all weekend. He can talk to all the pending free agents and make his recruiting pitches at all those events. The game is almost secondary. Anthony has played in seven of them already. They are nothing new to him.
Knicks fans don't really care if they see him wearing a uniform on Sunday night. They care about him being in uniform on opening night next October with two healthy knees and a good roster around him.
The best thing about the All-Star game being Sunday is that Anthony will be one game closer to shutting it down and getting ready for next season. The more time Anthony will have to recover from what seems like an inevitable knee surgery, the better.
Make no mistake, the Knicks will be even more unwatchable (yes, it's possible) with Anthony out of the lineup, but it is what is best for the franchise. If he does sit out the remainder of the regular season, it is hard to envision a scenario in which the Knicks don't end up with the worst record in the league. They won't be able to score enough to win games, barring an Andrea Bargnani resurgence. (I'll pause here to give you a chance to laugh)
The worst record in the league guarantees the Knicks a top six pick in the draft, but more than likely they will pick in the top three with a guarantee to get either Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns or D'Angelo Russell, three players that could be dynamic difference-making playmakers for years to come.
After Sunday night, the next day with any meaning for Knicks fans to pay attention to will be May 20, the night of the NBA draft lottery. Between now and then, perhaps the Knicks can work out a trade to move Jose Calderon's contract, or perhaps they will cut loose Amar'e Stoudemire or Bargnani.
All those potential moves have one thing in common: it's all about next year.
For everything Knicks and Giants, follow John on Twitter at @Schmeelk
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