Carmelo Anthony wants the Knicks to return from the All-Star break ready to fight, and challenged his teammates to try to make something out of this season that has quickly slipped away.
The Knicks go into the 10-day All-Star break on a six-game losing streak and with 10 defeats in 11 games. In the last three weeks, the Knicks have fallen from ninth to 12th place in the East, undergone a coaching change and are a season-worst nine games below .500 at 23-32.
Anthony, who said he won’t waive his no-trade clause and wants to remain a Knick, knows it’s up to the players more than ever to turn around the season.
“We have to go get it at this point,” Anthony said. “Take this break, kind of reboot, mentally, physically, come back and be ready for a dogfight. Everybody — top to bottom — everybody’s got to be ready. Everybody’s got to be prepared. This is a test for us. This will show if we really want this or not.”
The Knicks were floundering when team president Phil Jackson made the surprising move of firing his hand-picked coach, Derek Fisher, on Monday and replacing him with Kurt Rambis.
Rookie Kristaps Porzingis said the Knicks are feeling “depressed” as they careen toward a third straight year of missing the playoffs.
The break could come at the right time for the Knicks to rest, refresh, clear their heads and do some soul-searching. The Knick return to practice next Wednesday. The trade deadline is the next day, and their first game is Feb. 19 at Brooklyn.
They endured a familiar result in Rambis’ Knicks coaching debut Tuesday, falling behind by double figures early against the Wizards, clawing back and having a chance to win at the end. But they were unable to make the stops or shots necessary to end the skid.
“It has been a tough last few weeks,” Porzingis said. “Nobody is happy. Everybody is kind of depressed that we are losing. But we are trying to stay positive at the same time and now we lost our coach, so a lot of stuff is going on. But we try to stay focused with what we need to do on the court.”
Only a handful of Knicks were in the quiet locker room after Tuesday night’s loss — a sign that the players just needed to get away from everything. There likely would have been more players there wanting to reflect on the first part of the season if the circumstances were different.
“Sometimes you’ve got to disconnect yourself from what’s going on sometimes in your life,” Anthony said. “We all need to just get away from it a little bit, kind of reboot, refocus, get some more energy and focus our energy in the right place. We all need to break away from this sometimes and this break couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Anthony and Porzingis both used the word disconnect. Rambis said when they return they need to connect more.
The break is shorter for Porzingis and Anthony. Porzingis will be in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday in Toronto, and Anthony will play in Sunday’s All-Star Game. But Anthony plans to rest his sore surgically repaired left knee as much as possible.
“I’m not really too concerned about the game,” Anthony said. “There’s not much of a load in the game. It’s a program that I have that I will be sticking to until we come back. I’m totally locked into this week, week and a half and I’m looking forward to that.”
Anthony wants the Knicks to be locked in more than ever when they come back.