Blog Entry

Time for Knicks' Melo-dimensional offense to end

Posted on: March 25, 2011 11:48 pm
Edited on: March 26, 2011 1:40 am
NEW YORK – In the uncomfortable quiet of a losing locker room, Chauncey Billups perked up and spoke up when asked about the issue that ultimately will determine the success or failure of Carmelo Anthony’s shotgun wedding with the Knicks

Billups had just played another poor game and once again could not orchestrate the Knicks’ offense down the stretch in the team’s fifth straight loss and eighth in nine games, a 102-96 loss to the Bucks on Friday night. Billups and Anthony had checked in with 7:15 left and Milwaukee leading 91-88. With Billups, Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire on the floor together, the Knicks proceeded to miss their next nine shots from the field and made only 3 of 15 the rest of the way. 

“Tough times,” Anthony said. 

“Everything is so hard,” added coach Mike D’Antoni. 

Billups and Anthony have been a painful fit with D’Antoni’s triple-threat, pick-and-roll offense, which should be unstoppable with a point guard of Billups’ skill and leadership and two scorers like Anthony and Stoudemire. But like the opening weeks of the season, when offensive juggernauts LeBron James and Dwyane Wade couldn’t get out of each other’s way, the Knicks cannot do the one thing they’re currently built to do – score – when it matters most. Most puzzling of all, it’s more difficult for them to score when their three most accomplished offensive players are on the floor together. 

So I asked Billups in a quiet moment in the locker room if the offense is going to have to change to fit Anthony, or if he will adapt to a system he’d thrive in if only he’d embrace it. 

“Yeah, I think that’s in his makeup,” Billups said. “I think he’s probably done it before. The problem is, he’s always been so good that the system has always been just whatever he kind of wants, you know what I mean? He’s always been so good that he’s always been able to just do that and they make the system up around his strengths. I think now this is the first time he’s coming into this system and the system is a little different than the way that he plays. But he’s so good that he can be effective in any system, I think.” 

When Billups said Anthony has done it before, he meant when he played with multiple stars with USA Basketball. The offense didn’t always run through Melo with Team USA, and he didn’t always score the most points. It’s what Anthony needs to embrace now, more than he’s ever needed to embrace anything in his eight-year career. 

“He’s done it before,” Billups said. “He’ll do it again.” 

Anthony got his 25 points Friday night, and Stoudemire got his 28. But they combined for only four baskets and 12 points in the fourth quarter – and only one basket each during the horror show that was the final 7:15. 

“It’s so not fluid,” D’Antoni said. “It’s almost like mud in your engine. We’re just chugging, and it’s tough to play that way, in my opinion. We’re not spacing the floor real well, and the ball’s not moving. And it gets more pronounced in the fourth quarter.” 

With the Knicks 7-11 since the Anthony trade, D’Antoni unsurprisingly is facing the brunt of the criticism. It has not been a honeymoon for him in New York. After two years spent tearing down and cleaning house, D’Antoni finally has been given multiple All-Stars to coach for the first time since he left Phoenix. The problem is, this has been given to him with a quarter of the season left – on a team with no center, and on a team whose depth was badly depleted by the trade. 

He has also been given one of the most gifted scorers in the NBA, a player whose existing game happens to clash with the system that he runs. There are those who will follow the simplistic script and say D’Antoni is no good for the talent he has, and that the Knicks should start over again with another coach who will let Anthony do whatever he wants. 

Doing this without giving D’Antoni a realistic timeframe to break some of Anthony’s bad habits would be too silly to spend much time addressing. But more to the point: Has everyone forgotten that the Knicks gave $100 million to Stoudemire, who has played his entire career in the very system that people want to scrap after 18 games? 

The solution, which obviously isn’t going to come easily, is for Anthony to do what Billups suggested he’s never had to do before: adjust his game to the talent and system around him. He and Billups obviously have spent some time thinking about this, if not talking openly about it, because they said all the right things Friday night. 

“It’s an open offense – a lot of movement, a lot of pick and rolls, a lot of just spacing the court out,” Anthony said. “So that’s something that I have to adjust to. I will adjust to it. I’m not worried about that. And that’s something that I knew coming into this system, that I will have to adjust my game to fit into what’s going on.” 

But this wide-open system that Anthony and Billups keep describing bears no resemblance to what they do when they’re together with Stoudemire on the floor. Stoudemire’s pick-and-roll opportunities, the bread-and-butter of the offense, are nonexistent. The ball movement and spacing fall apart when Anthony touches the ball, sizes up his defender(s), and makes his move. 

“I don’t really think we can say the offense has to go through me or the offense has to go through Amar’e,” Anthony said. “In this offense, everybody touches the ball. Everybody gets open. … Everybody is a part of the offense. So for me to sit here and say the offense has to go through me or Amar’e … Chauncey has the ball. He coordinates all that, and we feed off him.” 

Billups described D’Antoni’s system as “different than any other system out there. … I’ve always pretty much been kind of a fast learner, but it is more different than any other system I’ve played in.” 

Not to belabor the Miami comparison – because we’re clearly talking about different caliber players – but LeBron and Wade have gone back and forth in trying to decide whose turn it is to score and to lead. Through 18 games, Anthony has been the focal point of the Knicks’ offense. That’s right, the player whose game fits the system the least has been the one getting the most opportunities. 

It is time for the Knicks to remember why they brought Stoudemire here, and what he does best: score easy baskets on pick-and rolls, and if not, create wide-open shots for someone else. Facing a far bigger challenge than he imagined when he got here, it is time for Anthony to embrace that, too. He’ll get his opportunities to do what he does best, and in some ways they’ll be better and higher-percentage opportunities than he’s ever had before. 

“Me personally, I’m gonna try to figure it out, and we’re gonna try to figure it out as a team,” Anthony said. “And when that happens, those times are gonna be fun. Basketball will be fun again.” 

He has no idea how much.

Since: Dec 15, 2007
Posted on: March 26, 2011 10:38 pm

Time for Knicks' Melo-dimensional offense to end

For the life of me I can't figure out why people keep looking to place all the blame on Carmelo Anthony when this is clearly a teams losing effort and a coach that may have coached his last season in New York, and for all the people calling for the coaches job with 10games left in the season, would you all rather have Herb Williams as the interm coach?

In order for D'antoni to right this team and hope to make the playoffs this season then he is gonna have to make simple adjustments, the players chemistry and body language is way off at this stage and it sorta seem's like D'antoni is losing the players, so he's gonna have to set his rotations better and get their timing together, also when it comes to fourth quarters he has got's to do a better job of rotational timing there is no reason for his main star to be sitting the first four to five minutes and then come in cold with little to no rhythm what so ever.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: March 26, 2011 5:17 pm

Time for Knicks' Melo-dimensional offense to end

Be careful what you wish for. People are shocked by this for some reason. There is a reason the Nuggets got out of the first round once in the 7 years 'Melo was there.

Since: Dec 23, 2010
Posted on: March 26, 2011 3:38 pm

Time for Knicks' Melo-dimensional offense to end

I have been Posting for two weeks now to Start Billups and Douglas. I love Fields but he needs to come off the bench. He is very good at rebouding but we need a Playmaker and scorer in the 1ST QTR. We fall behind and then the will falls apart in the 4TH. If Knicks get get a big 1ST QTR then the 4TH QTR would not be as crucial as it is now. Fields off the bench would work. We need a change now !

Since: May 7, 2007
Posted on: March 26, 2011 2:57 pm

Time for Knicks' Melo-dimensional offense to end

As for the knicks lackluster play...... I think most of us fans expected this. I know I did. This wasn't suppose to be the season, it was next year and beyond

Plus Billups is just filling in until CP3 lands in New York next year. 

Wow, talk about spoken like a true Knicks fan!

Excuses, excuses, excuses.... That's all Melo and the Knicks fans have. You say this trade was made for next year but you have NO IDEA what the new collective bargaining agreement will be like. However, every indication is that there will be a hard salary cap and the Knicks will be way over that with the money they're playing Melo and A'mare.

But you continue to talk out of the side of your neck and say Chris Paul will be in New York because it sounds good and will somehow lessen the pain of knowing your team sucks.

Keep making excuses as to why your team sucks, but they will continue to suck. The ONLY reason New York Knicks basketball is relevant is because the media constantly tells us it is.

The Knicks play tells all of us the real truth though.....

New York might be the mecca of basketball if you're talking about high school basketball.

But if you're talking pro basketball, New York is irrelevant unless you want a few Spike Lee sightings...

Since: Mar 2, 2010
Posted on: March 26, 2011 1:13 pm

Time for Knicks' Melo-dimensional offense to end

"Ken Berger hit the nail on the head with this sentence. People want to keep comparing the Knicks to the Heat, but that is not a legit comparison. D-Wade and LeBron are much better players than Melo and A'mare."

Spoken like a true nuggets fan who just lost the best player they ever had and while temporarily got better will not have the championship caliber team for a long while.  Why even compare LeChoke, Dwayne Wade and Bosh to the knicks 3. All play totally different positions and bring entirely different talents to their respective teams.  Plus Billups is just filling in until CP3 lands in New York next year. 

As for the knicks lackluster play...... I think most of us fans expected this. I know I did. This wasn't suppose to be the season, it was next year and beyond. It looked great for a bit, but I think we're seeing the struggles now which we were supposed to see initially. Hopefully they are able to bring it together somewhat in time for the playoffs to at least make a series competitive but I wouldn't expect that either. They need personnel changes and that has to wait till the offseason.

Personally I'm ok with this. They will be ok, but it takes some growing pains. I really think everyone needs to just back off and let D'Antoni do his thing.

Since: May 7, 2007
Posted on: March 26, 2011 11:34 am

Time for Knicks' Melo-dimensional offense to end

Not to belabor the Miami comparison – because we’re clearly talking about different caliber players – but LeBron and Wade have gone back and forth in trying to decide whose turn it is to score and to lead.

Ken Berger hit the nail on the head with this sentence. People want to keep comparing the Knicks to the Heat, but that is not a legit comparison. D-Wade and LeBron are much better players than Melo and A'mare.

And although I don't think Bosh is a great player, he is a much better player than Billups at this point in their careers. Billups looks old and like he doesn't want to be in New York.

Knicks simply don't have the talent to compete. Their so called Big 3 is more like a Big 1.5 when you really look at it.

Since: Apr 28, 2008
Posted on: March 26, 2011 10:37 am

Time for Knicks' Melo-dimensional offense to end

I don't think any rational Nuggets fan will ever forget the benefit that Carmelo brought upon his arrival. Prior to him getting drafted, the Nuggets were flat out horrible and lucky if they could win 15 games during the course of the entire season. He brought an instant winning attitude and the team blossomed into something that was at least competetive and fun to watch again. That being said, I find it interesting over the course of this entire blog entry, the word defense isn't mentioned even one time. I don't believe that the main reason why the Knicks are struggling since Melo and Chauncey arrived has anything to do with their offense. If they were holding the opponents to about 90 points a game, they would win most of those games with the firepower that Melo, Chauncey and Stoudemire bring every night. But just like what the main problem was in Melo's last year or three with the Nuggets, there's no commitment to defense by the guys that are the leaders of the team. The other big difference I've seen with the Nuggets since Melo left is that the players don't whine and complain to the refs nearly as much as they did when Melo was setting the example. How can you be committed to playing defense when all of your attention is on the "bad" call that the ref just made? One thing Melo needs to figure out is that the refs never change their call based on your ability to argue it's validity. But more importantly, lack of focus on the defensive requirements to play winning basketball is infectious and affects the other guys that look to you as a superstar as an example of how to play the game.

Since: Mar 31, 2008
Posted on: March 26, 2011 9:57 am

Time for Knicks' Melo-dimensional offense to end

This is a work in progress, but one thing i have noticed is that Toney Douglas is a black hole on offense as well. You stars shoot its a given. Role players shouldnt be jacking up 20+ shots a night. And as they always say ...Live by the 3 Die by the 3, way too many 3's being jacked up as well.

Since: Feb 15, 2011
Posted on: March 26, 2011 12:43 am

Time for Knicks' Melo-dimensional offense to end

Funny, I wrote this to a different posting but follows your thoughts.....
As a life long Nugget / Rocket fan (not Houston for the youngsters) I hate to see former players struggle. Anthony didn't get worse and Billups will always be a stud. This is just not a TEAM.  I will always wish them well they were fun to watch.. and you never knew what would happen as Billups is that old school ball player.


Anthony gave us some great foreshadowing and shows the current player mentality – “we'll figure it out as a team”

“No son! Sit your butt down on the bench and listen to the coach” is what you need to hear. If you all do what YOU are told – on both ends of the floor - concentrate and execute you’ll win. If not... it’s the coaches problem.

They are paid to diagram – set match ups and plays. Every player and I mean every player.... at this level better say “give me the ball”... I can do it....... 


No one has ever told you that.... and that is a shame. You have talent and excellence that would be unmatched. You would not play for a John Wooden, Red Auerbach or John Kundla. They won championships and their players listened.


Someday you may coach, manage or direct – in Basketball or out . Want to stand there while some kid a ¼ your age doesn’t acknowledge the knowledge and experience you can give them?


It’s coming...sooner than you think..... you reap what you sow. Might want to pass that on to friends.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or