However, Smith and Stoudemire amongst others starting to step up.
New York Knicks president Phil Jackson has conceded that Carmelo Anthony has had to carry a big load this season as the team continue to fight for the playoffs.
Jackson admits that he has held discussions with the free-agent-to-be this summer, but those talks have centred around how he is dealing with the pressure and responsibility this season as opposed to his long-term future.
The Knicks have improved to 33-43 for the season after winning 12 of their last 15 games to move ahead of the Atlanta Hawks on percentage points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Unsurprisingly, Anthony has played a key role in helping the team recover from their early struggles, but Jackson is optimistic that his team-mates are able to continue to support him and share the load.
“He’s had to carry a big load. It’s been a tough year for him. But it’s been a tough year for everyone. It’s not just isolated with him. But I think he feels the weight of it a lot more on himself,” he said, as reported by ESPN.
However, he also echoed the sentiments of center Tyson Chandler when asked whether or not teams would not want to face the Knicks in the first round.
“Well, with J.R. Smith playing at the level he’s playing at now, yes,” he added. “When Carmelo had to carry the load in scoring, a lot of times on his own back, and other people weren’t stepping into helping him carry that load, which Amar’e Stoudemire and J.R. have done, it could be a struggle. But now they have more than one option out there on the floor, and I think that we’ll give teams trouble.”
As Jackson continues to settle in his new role, he has previously insisted that he is keen to keep Melo at the franchise moving forward, and ultimately the pair will sit down at the end of the season and discuss both his individual plans and those of the organisation.
While money is seemingly not an issue for Anthony, it will all come down to whether or not the Knicks can sell the project to him and convince him that they are capable of building a roster that will be competing for an NBA championship in the near future.
If they successfully do that, then this season’s recovery may only just be the start of the rebuilding process with speculation suggesting that there could also be a chance at coaching level despite Mike Woodson overseeing a positive stretch to end the year.