The Knicks could shut down Carmelo Anthony for the year at some point in this lost season, a possibility head coach Derek Fisher acknowledged after Anthony sat Friday for the third time with left knee soreness.
"From the conversations I've been a part of, I think everybody is smart enough to realize, calendar wise, timing wise, that there may come a point that that's the decision that needs to be made," Fisher told Ian Begley of ESPN New York. "But [we realize] that we can't force Carmelo to that point just yet."
Anthony has been dealing with the knee issue since the second game of the year, but has still played 30 games this year. While it might seem like an easy decision to let Anthony sit since the Knicks' season is essentially over with a 5-30 record, Fisher said it's not quite that simple.
"We can't unilaterally just say, 'Hey, you know, you can't play for the rest of the season because of A, B and C,'" Fisher continued. "I think our medical staff, our training staff, continue to have conversations with him about where he is. He's conversing with us about how he's feeling, what the symptoms are. And so as each day kind of unfolds, decisions are being made. It's not something that we're just kind of stepping back and saying, 'Carmelo, you kind of tell us when you don't feel like playing anymore.'"
If the Knicks are being honest with themselves, they know they're playing for draft picks and ping pong balls at this point. Building around Anthony, who is in the first year of his five-year, $124 million contract, is one of the few things the team has going for it.
Anthony said surgery on the knee is a "last resort," and continues to play on it, which could possibly increase those chances. In any case, New York would be foolish to keep running him out there this year with virtually no possibility of reward. The Knicks can't alienate him and force him to sit, but if the knee issues continue, they have to find a way to convince him it's the best option available.