Carmelo Anthony makes his return to Madison Square Garden for the first -- and only -- time this season when the Los Angeles Lakers take on the New York Knicks Tuesday night. But unlike previous years when he's returned to play at MSG against a struggling Knicks squad, he'll be lining up opposite of a team coming off a playoff appearance and trying to replicate that success this season.
Despite their 9-8 start to the season, which has them sitting at ninth in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks are still considered playoff contenders, and Anthony says New York's team president Leon Rose deserves more credit for that.
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"It's very hard to come in and do what they're doing, what they started, what they created as far as starting from the ground up," said Anthony, via SNY. "When I say that, it's getting everything out, clearing everything out, bringing in the right people. But not doing it in a frantic way, not doing it in [by] taking advantage of power. It's just coming in, talking to people, getting to know people, understanding people, understanding what was happening before and being able to clean that up and build on that. I think people need to talk about that a lot more. That's a very difficult task coming in for somebody who was an agent prior to being a president of the New York Knicks. That's a big task so I'll tip my hat off to those guys for what they've accomplished, what they've established so far."
The Knicks hired Rose in March 2020. In the 20 months since being named team president, they went from a 21-win team when he took the role to immediately finding success the following year and finishing with a 41-31 record. He brought in Tom Thibodeau to be the next head coach, who then turned around and won Coach of the Year in his first year. He coached the Knicks to their first playoff appearance since Anthony was in blue and orange back in 2013.
This past offseason Rose was aggressive in improving upon that success from last season by signing Kemba Walker to an incredibly cheap deal after he was traded and then bought out. He also brought back Derrick Rose, who was New York's most productive bench player, and signed Julius Randle to a team-friendly extension before he was eligible for a huge payday this upcoming summer. While the Knicks have been inconsistent to start the season, these past two years have been far better than the last seven seasons combined. That's because of the decisions Rose is making in the front office when it comes to roster construction and coaching hires.
So when Anthony, who used to be represented by Rose as an agent, says Rose deserves more credit for what he's done with this franchise, he's not wrong. The next step will be showing that last season wasn't a fluke and that the Knicks can continue to be relevant and competitive in the league. If the last 20 months have been any indication, then that shouldn't be a problem for Rose and the Knicks.