Any flicker of hope the New York Knicks had of making a playoff run has been extinguished over the past few weeks.
New York has lost 13 of its past 15 games and will enter play Thursday 6½ games out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
The club isn’t mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. But it seems as though that’s only a matter of time.
So, barring a comeback for the ages over the next seven weeks, New York will miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
That means three straight seasons devoid of playoff games for Carmelo Anthony, who made the postseason in each of his first 10 years in the NBA.
How will the 31-year-old Anthony react to yet another season without a playoff appearance?
“That doesn’t sit well with me,” Anthony said during All-Star Weekend in Toronto. “To reflect a little about that, it’s tough. To think about that, to know that it can be three years if we don’t pick it up right away. I try not to think about it right now. In actuality, you have to start thinking about that eventually."
Anthony was also asked by reporters if another playoff-free season would cause him to think about his future with the Knicks. He gave an interesting response.
“Not yet. Not yet. Not yet," Anthony said. “I’m pretty sure I’ll have that conversation with myself, my family, my team [agents]. That’s not a conversation right now."
Only Anthony himself knows how that conversation with his inner circle will play out. But the Knicks’ recent struggles haven’t sat well with the veteran.
His frustration with the team’s play and his uncertainty over its future has grown in recent weeks, according to league sources with knowledge of his thinking. He expressed that publicly after Monday's loss to Toronto.
But there is no indication Anthony has prepared to waive his no-trade clause and leave New York this summer.
He has said several times recently that he has committed to New York. And he has backed those words up.
Prior to the trade deadline, the Boston Celtics expressed interest in obtaining Anthony via a trade with the Knicks, according to league sources with knowledge of the situation.
It is unclear if there were any formal discussions between New York and Boston and if those discussions ever reached an advanced stage. But Boston was informed that Anthony had no desire to leave the Knicks via trade to play for the Celtics, sources say.
That stance aligns with what Anthony has said publicly about his desire to win a title in New York.
"Doing it in New York is better than doing it any place in the world," he said earlier this month. “One in New York is better than multiple somewhere else. That was the reason I wanted to come to New York. That’s the reason I’m in New York. ... I don’t want to run. I could have run somewhere when I was a free agent. I came back for a reason. I don’t feel like I got to keep expressing that part of why I came back to New York."
People who know Anthony believe he, indeed, wants to remain in New York and win here. But will his stance change if the Knicks fail to upgrade the roster this summer?
If so, several teams will be in position to acquire Anthony via trade thanks to the rising salary cap. So Anthony will have options.
And you can be sure that his future will be a topic of conversation around the Knicks for the foreseeable future. After all, there's no point in talking about any magical playoff run.