NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 1:08 AM
Carmelo Anthony would be wise to embrace rookie Kristaps Porzingis, who could help the Knicks All-Star forward get back to the playoffs.
Long before Kristaps Porzingis became the flavor of the moment at Madison Square Garden there was a phenomenon known as “Linsanity,” which had a memorable two-week run in New York before it all went horribly wrong.
Perhaps the most insane moment of “Linsanity” occurred in the summer of 2012 when J.R. Smith admitted that if Jeremy Lin did re-sign with the Knicks it would cause problems in the locker room.
“Without a doubt,” Smith, the former Knick, said at the time. “I think some guys take it personal, because they’ve been doing it longer and haven’t received any reward for it yet. I think it’s a tough subject to touch on for a lot of guys.”
Not since Scottie Pippen moaned about Toni Kukoc’s contract nearly 20 years earlier had players made such a stink over a teammate’s potential financial windfall. Lin was about to cash in on a few weeks of spectacular play in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. Basically, Lin was doing what any NBA player in his right mind would do.
Smith’s warning shot spoke directly to the perceived jealousy that some Knicks, specifically Carmelo Anthony, may or may not have had over Lin’s sudden fame, the same sudden fame that Porzingis is experiencing today.
Except that the Knicks, specifically Anthony, seem to embrace their young teammate.
“I don’t know, I can’t speak on behalf of him,” Lin said of Anthony prior to Porzingis scoring a career-high 29 points in a 102-94 win over Lin and the Charlotte Hornets. “He’s been great, cordial and nice to me every time I’ve come in contact with him. I don’t feel there’s any issues. That’s probably a question directed at him.”
Jeremy Lin once ruled the Garden the way Porzingis did on Tuesday – but it didn’t last.
Anthony fed into the notion that he was somewhat jealous of Lin when he called the $ 25 million offer sheet Lin received from the Houston Rockets “ridiculous.” For years, however, Anthony has dismissed such talk as nonsense, going as far to say that he texted a congratulatory message.
“It’s not something I brag about or broadcast,” Anthony once said. “But I’ve been one of his supporters along the way.”
Here’s what we do know about Anthony and his perceived role in D’Antoni being fired and Lin leaving town; he wasn’t crazy about standing in the corner when Lin dominated headlines and the ball by playing pick-and-roll with Amar’e Stoudemire.
FYI: Every player and coach from that 2011-12 season is gone … with the exception of Anthony.
On Tuesday, Anthony and Lin were sharing the Garden stage once again but this time both were playing supporting roles to the new fan favorite. The Garden faithful have already fallen head over heels for the 7-foot-3 rookie who also happens to be the highest draft pick in franchise history since Patrick Ewing, who was also in the building as an assistant coach with Charlotte.
Ewing has been very complimentary of Porzingis, and Lin is also impressed with the skill level and agility of the 20-year-old Latvian, who also grabbed 11 rebounds on Tuesday. Anthony, after initially being skeptical about Phil Jackson’s decision to draft Porzingis fourth overall instead of selecting point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, has been pleasantly surprised with Porzingis’ development. The question is can Anthony share the spotlight with the popular first-year player.
Anthony playing defense?
Stoudemire left Phoenix and Steve Nash because the Knicks were giving him more money and the chance to be the Alpha dog. Amare’s time as the franchise player lasted roughly 56 games before Melo arrived in New York and became a fan and James Dolan favorite.
Stoudemire accepted his sudden role change and a year later even embraced the idea of having Lin as a teammate. Anthony appears to have done the same with Porzingis and his willingness to share the ball and the stage with the player who represents the future of the franchise will go a long way toward determining how good the Knicks can be over the next few years.
Anthony, 31, is older now and after failing to make the playoffs for two straight seasons he should realize that he needs help. Melo’s also in the second year of a five-year, $ 125 million contract so financially he’s set. He even has a no-trade clause, leaving him with the power to control his own future.
The future for Porzingis is promising. We also said the same about Lin, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgoz. It’s inevitable that the Knicks will begin featuring Porzingis more in the offense and in marketing campaigns. Who knows if Anthony will continue to embrace that change, even if it is best for the franchise. If Melo’s smart, he will.
We do know this: nobody puts Melo in the corner.