Bernard King: Carmelo Anthony 'hasn't had the cast around him' to compete for a title with the Knicks

NEW YORK -- Bernard King was in town for a reunion of the 1983-84 New York Knicks. He shared plenty of memories of that season, when New York beat the Detroit Pistons in a memorable first-round series, and also shared some candid thoughts on current Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony has been at the center of drama for much of the season. Team president Phil Jackson leveled direct and indirect criticism at him several times throughout the year, and the Knicks talked to teams about potential Anthony trades before the deadline.

New York might look to deal Anthony again this summer, and that uncertainty saddens King, who has a relationship with Anthony.

“That’s a very tough position to be in,” King said before the Knicks' 105-88 loss to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night. “I know that Carmelo loves it here in New York. I know that he came back here when he was traded -- and particularly when he was re-signed -- with the idea that they would be in the position to win a title I can’t imagine what that must be like for him, having to think about potentially leaving New York and going somewhere else and pursuing that goal. Not that he wants to leave New York; he wants it to happen here. But you have to wait and see. But I feel for him every time I watch him.”

King commended Anthony for handling himself in a professional manner on and off the court amid all of the uncertainty.

“I’m just disappointed that he hasn’t had the cast around him that really would take him to the next level and meet that desire of winning a championship,” King said.

Anthony detractors will point to his shot selection and poor defense as factors in the Knicks’ recent struggles. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that Anthony has had five head coaches in seven years and 45 teammates over the past three seasons.

Hubie talks KP: Hubie Brown, the head coach of the 1983-84 Knicks and an analyst for ESPN, likes what he sees in second-year forward Kristaps Porzingis, who led the Knicks with 20 points Wednesday night. But he also sees areas where Porzingis needs to improve.

Brown knows the game as well as anyone on the planet, so it’s worth reading his analysis in full:

“We haven’t seen this type of athleticism or shooting ability of a player 7-3,” Brown said. “Now, the improvement must come in body strength -- upper and lower. Meaning, can he hold the post-ups in that when he gets to the post? Because right now, his post-up game is below-average. He’s got to work on his post-up game.

“We all know that he can shoot the 3s. He’s got the midrange shot. He’s a good kid, he’s going to listen to [and] do everything that you want. But the body has got to get stronger. He’s got to get a better game with his back to the basket so they can play him at the 5. And they can run him in and post him up out of transition as well as out of set plays. Right now, that’s not part of the mix. All of this is there -- why? Athleticism. Quickness. The fact that he has an excellent touch. He plays the glass as good if not better than any big man ever over 7-foot -- the glass, he plays it perfectly. So the talent is there.

“It’s going to come down to work ethic, injuries, how he attacks the summer sessions. Because we all know that he has to improve defensively. It wouldn’t be such an issue if he was just playing a 4. But he has to play 5s. Then when they switch out up top, he’s with a point guard, a 2-guard, a small forward, that will all create. So all of a sudden you’re saying, well, gee whiz, how come he can’t [defend those positions]? Whoa, whoa, wait a second! How many guys do you know, that size, have ever been asked to play defensively outside of 15 feet against perimeter guys?

"He’s going to learn. You see he’s learning the hard way. But don’t you love his attitude? His attitude is fantastic. Most of the time he says all the right things. And I’m a big fan, mainly because he’s going to be big, and he’s going to be big for a long time.”.... Bill Cartwright, also on hand for a reunion of the 1983-84 Knicks team, says it’s ‘preposterous’ to think that the Knicks’ issues are a result of the triangle offense. “You’re scoring plenty of points (in the triangle). You’re scoring 105… You’re giving up 108. So is your problem really offensive? Is it really? It’s so preposterous that you’re even talking (about offense)…. Why are you talking offense? That confuses me. It really does,” he said.

Cartwright, who played for Phil Jackson in Chicago, was asked if he thought Jackson could turn things around for the Knicks, who have missed the playoffs for four straight years. “I think that’s going to be dictated on the players that you get. If you’re able to capture some players, some good role players, some guys that fit together. Sure why not.”

Cartwright makes a fair point about defense: the Knicks rank 18th in offensive efficiency but 26th in defensive efficiency.