Kristaps Porzingis Doesn’t Want to Lose Carmelo Anthony

Feb 2, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) and forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) against the Boston Celtics during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 2, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) and forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) against the Boston Celtics during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

In the face of adversity, rookie and future franchise player Kristaps Porzingis opened up to the media about mentor Carmelo Anthony. His one request of the New York Knicks: don’t let Anthony go.

The New York Knicks are still the New York Knicks. A strong start, including a .500 record more than halfway through the 2015-16 NBA regular season, has proved meaningless as New York has dropped 13 of its past 15 games en route to its current record of 24-35.

With the Knicks inching closer to yet another season without a postseason appearance, many have begun to question whether or not Carmelo Anthony will stick around for the long haul.

Anthony recently told reporters that it’s been tough to stay positive amidst another underwhelming Knicks season. Since he led New York to a record of 54-28 in 2012-13, the Knicks have gone 37-45, 17-65, and 24-35 through 59 games of 2015-16.

According to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York, Kristaps Porzingis doesn’t want to lose Anthony as his teammate and mentor.

"“Obviously I wouldn’t want to lose him,” the rookie said when asked whether he’s worried about Anthony’s frustration leading to a potential change this summer. “He is who he is on our team. He’s very special.“And we need him to do big things in the future, especially for me. I love playing alongside him, so that would obviously not be something that I want.”"

Anthony has expressed no interest in leaving New York, but it’s certainly understandable for his frustration to mount.

Anthony’s tenure in New York has been one of constant disarray. He’s played for four head coaches, with a fifth on the way once Kurt Rambis‘ tenure as interim head coach concludes.

He’s also been a part of countless starting lineups, as evidenced by the fact that he’s the only player from the 2013-14 roster who’s still on the Knicks.

The one silver lining: never before has Anthony played with a rookie as promising as Porzingis.

A 31-year-old Anthony is hungry for an elusive championship, and Porzingis won’t help him achieve that goal in the short-term. That’s an unappealing reality for a player who has watched LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and—yes, even him—Darko Milicic win championship rings.

Milicic clearly isn’t ahead of Anthony on the all-time scale, but ‘Melo is the only player selected in the Top 5 of the 2003 NBA Draft without a title.

Bosh, James and Wade won a pair of championships together, and Wade won a third crown in 2006. James has made two other NBA Finals appearances, which far outweighs the strength of Anthony’s resume—one Conference Finals appearance and no other trips.

When asked if Anthony’s growing and understandable frustration with New York’s inconsistency was becoming a distraction, Porzingis gave a candid response:

"“He’s very professional,” Porzingis said of whether he can sense Anthony’s frustration. “Obviously we all know he’s frustrated and we’re frustrated. … Inside, deep inside, you’re frustrated but he’s not showing it, so I think he’s [being] a great leader right now.“It’s been pretty tough, but I believe all of this that we’re going through … it’s all a big challenge to prepare us for something bigger in the future,” Porzingis added. “That’s what I believe in, and we’ve just got to push through this. And this is going to make us stronger mentally, so when we get to that moment where we can actually be a championship team, we’re ready for it.”"

One can’t help but become enamored with the way Porzingis, still just 20 years old, approaches the game.

Anthony signed a five-year deal worth roughly $124 million prior to the 2014-15 NBA regular season. A knee injury cut his 2014-15 campaign short, but New York was well out of the postseason picture before Anthony went down.

New York has dramatically improved since a season ago, but missing the playoffs for a third consecutive season would be a very tough reality to embrace.

Despite New York’s shortcomings, Anthony has been unanimously praised for his work as a teammate, leader, and mentor for the 2015-16 Knicks. He took the team to Puerto Rico to help build team chemistry, and for the first 44 games, that move paid dividends.

Rambis, who was an assistant to Derek Fisher before he became the interim head coach, spoke at length about how great of a job Anthony has done as a mentor to Porzingis.

"“Carmelo is doing the right thing. He is being a mentor to a young guy,” Knicks interim coach Kurt Rambis said. “And a lot of it is just Carmelo challenging him to be aggressive and confident out there on the floor. … Melo has been great with him in terms of encouraging him to grow as a ballplayer to blossom, to trust himself and be confident in what he does.”"

Although the win total continues to disappoint, Anthony’s value to the organization is both immense and undeniable.

The consensus seems to be that Anthony is having a positive impact on Kristaps Porzingis’ career. A 24-35 record is disappointing, but Porzingis is outperforming any and every expectation that fans, analysts, and even his own coaches had for him.

If nothing else, New York has reason to keep Anthony in town if it means helping Porzingis remain happy and on the path to stardom.

More knicks: The Boston Celtics wanted to trade for Carmelo Anthony. Was he interested?

The fact that Anthony is unwilling to wave his no-trade clause—something that could’ve easily been done in the midst of a career-year defensively and as a facilitator—suggests that he’ll be there for quite some time.