Oscar Robertson: Carmelo Anthony Should Leave New York Knicks

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2014

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 30: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks in a game against the Golden State Warriors on March 30, 2014 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
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In the (unlikely) event Carmelo Anthony decides to start living by the code, "Do whatever Oscar Robertson tells you to do," the New York Knicks will soon be one superstar lighter.

During an interview on SiriusXM NBA radio Thursday, Big O shared his thoughts on Anthony's imminent free agency.

The gist of his message?

Run. Run now. 

For those interested in hearing his opinion verbatim, ESPN New York's Ian Begley has you covered:

I would leave today [if I were Carmelo]...Let me tell you why: wherever that kid has gone, when he was at Denver, they had a team that fooled around with the ball, fooled around with the ball, then all of the sudden when they needed a basket, threw it to Carmelo. Then, when he shot the ball, they said he shot too much. Then when he didn't shoot they said he didn't shoot enough.

No matter what he does in New York they're going to criticize him, the people are going to criticize him, because you got guys on [the Knicks] that cannot play. You got guys that are hurt all the time.

At the risk of criticizing one of the all-time greats, I would personally argue just the opposite. 

Anthony hasn't been criticized as much as he could have been. For a guy who's been accused of running both Jeremy Lin and Mike D'Antoni out of town and has made it out of the first round of the playoffs just once since his arrival, he's enjoyed plenty of support. 

There were rough stretches during his first one-plus years, but over the last two seasons—especially this past one—Anthony has reached Knicks fans on a different level. People aren't inclined to blame him for New York missing the playoffs. That's Mike Woodson's fault. Tyson Chandler's fault. James Dolan's fault. Anthony has been absolved of all blame, or at least most of it.

To say he should leave because of how the New York population perceives him is a tad flimsy. Criticism won't suddenly disintegrate into nothingness if and when he departs. He'll take heat for leaving and more to the point, he'll face incredibly high expectations wherever he goes.

Public exposure shouldn't factor into his decision. If Anthony wants to leave New York, he should leave to win, to escape the sinking ship team President Phil Jackson is trying to keep afloat.

Public perception should weigh heavily on 'Melo's free agency.
Public perception should weigh heavily on 'Melo's free agency.Frank Franklin II

Robertson was kind enough to expand on his take, though, offering his advice on where Anthony should land.

"If he goes to Houston, they're gonna win everything," he said.

Now we're talking. 

This makes more sense. Never mind if you think the Houston Rockets can win it all with Dwight Howard, James Harden and Anthony. That's why 'Melo should actually leave—to try to win. And that's just what CBS Sports' Ken Berger says Robertson was trying to explain:

So what we have here is a bit of a staredown between Jackson and Anthony. The Knicks can offer Anthony more money than any other free-agent suitor, but in order for Jackson to hold up his end of the bargain and put winning pieces around Anthony, the All-Star forward would have to willingly take less.

And so, to Robertson's point, if you come at this from the premise that Anthony is willing to take less, why not take less from a team that already is in a position to contend for a title if he came on board? Why not take less to join Dwight Howard and James Harden in Houston? Why take less and lose in New York with a team that won't have meaningful cap room until the summer of 2015?

Actually leaving New York won't be easy. The Knicks can offer Anthony more money than any other team. More importantly, many of the outside teams must first free up cap space before making pitches to him. Even after teams such as the Chicago Bulls and Rockets do that, there's a real chance Anthony would have to accept far less than initially projected.

If Anthony truly only cares about winning, money should be no object. He'll team up with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami for the veteran's minimum and chase championships while having fun in the sun. But we know better.

Money matters.

Winning matters too.

Unflattering diatribes Anthony may or may not be subject to once he decides to leave or stay should not.


 *Salary information via ShamSports.