When the New York Knicks traded Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and the Chicago Bulls’ 2018 second-round draft pick, they officially closed a chapter.
"This is a deal we feel works for both this franchise and Carmelo. We thank him for his seven seasons in a Knicks uniform and all that he accomplished off the court for the City of New York by using his platform to address social issues," Knicks president Steve Mills said in a statement released by the team. "We will continue to focus on this team looking forward towards the immediate and long-term future. As we have said recently, this is a new beginning for the New York Knicks.”
While Melo’s time in New York can be characterized as a disappointment from a team perspective, there was no denying that he was the face of the franchise and the unquestioned leader of the club during his time there. That was reflected in his emotional goodbye to Knicks fans.
"Thank you to All My Fans who supported me through Thick and Thin," Anthony wrote in a letter to the city of New York on his website. "And those who continued to support The Knicks regardless of the outcome. Thank You to Jim Dolan and the Knicks organization and all the hardworking people that don't get the credit they deserve. And most importantly, Thank you to the City of New York for allowing me to represent OUR city.”
Therefore, not only will Anthony be leaving a void in the scoring column for the Knicks, but he will also be leaving the club without a captain.
The obvious player to look towards is Kristaps Porzingis, who is one of the best young players in the NBA. But, it doesn’t seem as though he’s willing to accept that role from a vocal perspective.
“I don’t need to force it,” Porzingis told Al Iannazzone of Newsday.com on Tuesday. “The first thing I’ll do, I’ll be the hardest working guy. We have a lot of guys that work hard. I’ll work hard also and give an example and then from that hard work you can be a leader.”
Enter 31-year-old guard Courtney Lee, who has played for seven NBA teams over his nine-year career. He believes that he can assume a major leadership role for the team.
“We got a good young core group,” Lee said. “It’s going to be my job and everybody else who’s in that 30-club to push these guys and come out here and compete and show them the right way and lay down that blueprint so they can take it and go forward with it.”
Last season, Lee put up 10.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 31.9 minutes over 77 games played. He started 74 of those games and should be slated for a major role on the court in the upcoming season.