Home / Sports / Isola: Carmelo Anthony's absence from Vegas says it all

Isola: Carmelo Anthony's absence from Vegas says it all

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony high fives kids as he attempts to break the high five world record during the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2015 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion in L.A. on Thursday.KEVORK DJANSEZIAN/REUTERS

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony high fives kids as he attempts to break the high five world record during the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports Awards 2015 at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion in L.A. on Thursday.

While Carmelo Anthony fell short of setting the world record for most high-fives in 30 seconds at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards on Thursday in Los Angeles, the Knicks Summer League entry was playing its second to last game in Las Vegas.

The following night, and presumably without any other world records on his agenda, Anthony was again a no-show at the Thomas & Mack Center as Phil Jackson watched the Knicks, playing without Kristaps Porzingis, defeat Milwaukee and finish with a 4-1 record in Vegas.

It was a positive week for the Knicks, who are trying to crawl out from the abyss that was a franchise worst 17-win season in 2014-15. But Anthony’s decision not to attend any of the five games is telling, especially when he spends most of the offseason at his home in Los Angeles and is tentatively scheduled to attend the inaugural “Players Awards” on Sunday in, yes, Las Vegas.

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LeBron James showed up two days early to sit courtside and watch the Cavs Summer League team. DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo, the two best players on a Sacramento team that has replaced the Knicks as the league’s most dysfunctional franchise, were in Vegas to watch the Kings rookies and free agents play.

Anthony is not required to attend but considering he wasn’t involved in any of the Knicks’ free agent recruiting meetings and hasn’t spoken directly with Jackson, the team president, in nearly three weeks, his absence in Las Vegas comes across as a silent protest.

It was been reported in several news outlets, including the Daily News, that Anthony is frustrated that Jackson added only role players in free agency. Anthony’s friend and former teammate with the Nuggets and Knicks, Kenyon Martin, told ESPN last week that he feels “bad” for Anthony and that he doesn’t “deserve to be part of a rebuilding process.”

Anthony took $ 124 million contract from Jackson and the Knicks last summer but he was also under the impression that the club was committed to building a championship team immediately. But instead of landing any big names, Jackson signed Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams and Kyle O’Quinn.

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With LeBron playing an active role in free agency, the Cavs made the moves that Carmelo’s buddy pushed for, including re-signing Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert . And for all the talk of DeAndre Jordan not getting along with Chris Paul, it was Paul who traveled to Houston on July 9th with the Clippers to make sure Jordan re-signed.

Paul, another one of Carmelo’s close friends, watched Doc Rivers re-sign Jordan plus add Paul Pierce , Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith . Clearly the Clippers don’t agree with Jackson’s new theory that you don’t chase big names in free agency.

LeBron and Paul both played active roles in free agency. Whether it was their choice or not isn’t the point. They were involved. Afflalo, Anthony’s former teammate in Denver, said that he never spoke with Anthony during the process and even refuted a report that Anthony called him after he agreed to join the Knicks.

It is unclear if Jackson didn’t want Anthony’s help or if Anthony simply didn’t want to be involved. Either way, it’s a troubling sign because if the Knicks have any real hopes of being a playoff team they’ll need their best player to be healthy and fully engaged.

Carmelo Anthony not showing up in Vegas can be viewed as a silent protest.Allen Berezovsky/WireImage

Carmelo Anthony not showing up in Vegas can be viewed as a silent protest.

When Jackson met with reporters on Monday and was asked if Anthony’s importance to the team has ever been greater, Jackson could have taken the question and run with it. But instead of giving Anthony a public “high five”, he merely responded: “I don’t know if that’s how I would even state that.”

POR-ING IT ON

Golden State assistant coach Ron Adams , who has a long history of scouting and coaching players overseas, said that he would have selected Kristaps Porzingis with the first overall pick in “last year’s NBA Draft. I really like him.”

Porzingis definitely showed potential in his four Summer League games; he’s got the right skill set, attitude and work ethic to one day become an All Star. The physical side of the game, however, will be a struggle for the rookie.

The 19-year-old isn’t afraid of physical contact. That’s not the issue. The question is about his durability and overall fitness. The 7-foot-3 Porzingis averaged just 20.5 minutes in four games and his production and performance slipped dramatically in his fourth and final game on Thursday. Playing for the fourth time in six days, Porzingis played a Summer League-high 24 minutes and went 3-for-10 with four rebounds.

The grind of an 82-game NBA season gets the best of most rookies, and Porzingis, who five years ago was diagnosed with anemia, will be no different.

BUMMER LEAGUE

The worst thing to do with Summer League is to rush to judgment — positively or negatively — about any player. Hopefully that is the case for two players taken ahead of Porzingis, D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor , who both struggled in Las Vegas. All you need to know about Russell is that the Lakers are trying to work out a trade for Denver point guard Ty Lawson , who was arrested last week for DUI, his second such arrest since January. Okafor is a terrific low-post scorer but his free-throw shooting is abysmal and his conditioning will be a major issue.

The player that everyone, including the Knicks, may regret passing over is Denver point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who was very impressive.

The Knicks are hoping to sign a big man with NBA experience prior to training camp… Ricky Ledo may get a training camp invite but he’s in danger of not making the 15-man roster.

Jalen Brunson , the son of former Knick Rick Brunson , was named MVP of the FIBA under-19 World Championships. Like his father, Jalen, is a lefty point guard. But while Rick played at Temple, Jalen is an incoming freshman at another Philadelphia college, Villanova.

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