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The most fitting end to Carmelo Anthony’s career is with the Knicks

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Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks deserve one more chance to make things right.

Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Carmelo Anthony’s time with the Houston Rockets is over, and it’s ending much like his tenure with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Sides are “parting ways” as Anthony failed to fit into Houston’s system which thrives on three-point shooters and versatile defenders. The team is keeping him on the roster as he seeks a potential suitor, and one makes a whole lot of sense.

Anthony’s departure from the New York Knicks was messy, marring the brief success he brought to a franchise that hadn’t seen any for a decade-plus. The team reached the 2013 Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time in 13 seasons with Anthony as the star — a (somewhat depressingly) signature moment in recent Knicks history. Though there was little else to celebrate from a basketball standpoint, the way the city, the team, and Melo separated from each other deserved more closure.

Then-president of basketball operations Phil Jackson was at the root of the unpleasantness, but now, with an almost entirely different core, there’s an opportunity for the Knicks to make things right again with their biggest star since Patrick Ewing.

Melo would, of course, have to agree to a few important parameters, but he won’t have many better alternatives.

Signing Melo for the rest of the season can let both sides make things right

Jackson went to the media to publicly bash Anthony, who was playing out the final years of a contract handed to him by Jackson himself. He’d “be better off somewhere else,” Jackson said of Anthony in April of 2017, though the 10-time All-Star was protected by a no-trade clause given to him by New York’s front office. Anthony wanted to stay in New York, and he was seemingly the only one who felt that way.

“Then last year it went to: I was being pushed out,” Anthony said in a New York Times feature by Marc Stein. “There were things being said about me that I didn’t know where they were coming from. And I still had to go in that gym and play and practice and deal with the media, answer all those questions every day.

“There was no support from the organization,” he said. “When you feel like you’re on your own and then on top of that you feel like you’re being pushed out …”

It was a disappointing ending for Melo, who did nothing but reiterate his desire to remain in New York — the city he grew up in. Sure, the Knicks went 196-216 with Anthony, according to StatMuse. But Melo was exactly who the Knicks traded for, and much like the Thunder and Rockets learned afterwards, expecting anyone else was foolish.

The Knicks couldn’t give Melo the storybook ending to match his introduction, which included a memorable “Coming Home” video.

Now’s the Knicks’ chance.

Melo would have to really commit to the backup role this time

Anthony wanted no part of a bench job in Oklahoma City, but his role in Houston seems to have humbled him. Though things didn’t work out, his former Knicks coach and Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni sung Anthony’s praises for his professionalism off the bench.

“I just didn’t ever want to disrespect him and his career,” D’Antoni said, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “He’s going in the Hall of Fame. You try to do the best thing, and you don’t make all the right decisions for sure. He was great, and we tried to make it work, but it just didn’t work out.”

Anthony must know by now that he won’t be handed a starting role in the NBA again. He’ll have to earn it, accept where his spot in the league is, or leave altogether. If he’s leaning towards hanging up his Hall of Fame career, there’s no better or more fulfilling place to do so than back in New York City.

Anthony couldn’t interfere with the Knicks’ youth. That’d need to be a priority. But for a franchise that is full-on tanking, what easier space could there be for Anthony to play 15 minutes or so per night and receive applause and validation for as many long twos as he pleases?

And if things really work out, maybe he can stay with the organization post-retirement.

It’d be a fitting ending for a superstar who, for better or a lot of times worse, stayed true to himself.