The NBA trade deadline came and went, and New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony stayed where he was. 

To be frank, the Knicks have been a dumpster fire to start 2017. The combination of Phil Jackson‘s cryptic tweets, James Dolan’s handling of Charles Oakley and the overall unsteadiness of the organization is doing the players no good. One part of that uneasiness was Anthony and his future with the team.

Also Read: Dolan, Oakley and the Knicks PR Nightmare

The Knicks wanted to trade Anthony… or did they? Did Melo only want to go to a particular team? But wait, he was given a no-trade clause and wouldn’t waive it unless he approved the deal. Of course, it isn’t Anthony’s fault that he wasn’t traded. Instead, it was the front office’s ambiguity around the situation, and now the Knicks’ players have no idea what to think going forward.

Following New York’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night, Melo spoke to ESPN’s Ian Begley and said he doesn’t understand what the team wants to do for the future.

“No, not now. No, to be honest with you,” said Anthony. “I think they were kind of planning on the trade deadline, whether they were trying to make moves. I think that was one plan. Now they’ve got to get back to the drawing board and come up with another plan about the future of this team.”

The Knicks were looking to sell during the deadline, open to the idea of parting ways with Courtney Lee, Brandon Jennings and Kyle O’Quinn for the right price. Derrick Rose was the only player who got mentioned in trade talks. Minnesota was batting around the idea of a deal packaged around Ricky Rubio, but, ultimately, the Knicks’ asking price was too high.

Now, they’re stuck. Jeff Hornacek is doing everything he can to keep his team together, but the 23-35 Knicks have lost eight of their last 10 and are 7-18 since the start of January. Without an identity, most of New York’s offense is ran hoping that Rose can get to the basket and that Anthony or Kristaps Porzingis can make a play off of his penetration. It’s worked to an extent, and the latter two have shouldered most of the scoring load, but a lack of effort on defense attributes more to their losses than anything.

Looking at the defense objectively, the Knicks were not constructed to stop the ball. Melo and Rose are liabilities on that end; Porzingis has had issues staying out of foul trouble, and Joakim Noah hasn’t been healthy. Furthermore, Jennings plays the kind of pressure, in-your-face defense that can only work if he has weakside help — shocker: he doesn’t.

Lee is the only one who’s been consistent on defense all season long, but it’s buried under everything else.

Hornacek made Kurt Rambis his defensive coordinator, tasked him with doubling down on that end of the floor and nothing has come of it.

The last thing that makes the Knicks’ fall from grace worse is that they were actually good this year. It’s not a lie, I promise. After beating the Orlando Magic on Dec 22, New York was 16-13 and in a position to get hot and push for a middle playoff seed.

Instead, they lost six in a row.

Now, they have zero first-round selections in the 2017 draft, a president who’s looking more and more disinterested in doing his job and a group of players who aren’t happy with what’s going on with their higher-ups.

If ownership blows it up this summer, don’t be surprised. If ownership doesn’t blow it up this summer, don’t be surprised.

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