In retaining Anthony, Jackson gets his primary scorer. But while Melo might be in the same neighborhood as Jordan and Bryant as a scorer, he hasn't demonstrated a sustained ability to raise his teammates' level of play. He's been more Scottie Pippen rather than Michael Jordan. The triangle could help in this regard. But Anthony's teams have been just plus-2.9 points with him on the floor throughout his career. Though we don't have plus-minus numbers for Jordan, Bryant's teams have been plus-5.2. Keeping Anthony simply isn't enough to deliver a title to Madison Square Garden.
Unless Jackson miraculously offloads the last year of the deals belonging to Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani, the Knicks will only be able to improve on the margins this summer. Next year, however, will be something different entirely.
Even with minimal wrangling, Jackson will have a max salary slot available to go shopping for a second star. Players who could be on the market include Kevin Love, Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rajon Rondo. Terrific players, all of them. But none of those guys would quite be the Jordan to Anthony's Pippen. That's what makes Jackson's next task so hard: By bringing back Anthony, Jackson slides into place a key piece. But he still needs the piece.
LeBron James reportedly wanted to team with Anthony, even though there wasn't a situation to make it work, and now James is in Cleveland. Kobe Bryant badly wanted Anthony to join him on the Lakers. Whatever you think of Anthony as a player, smart teams chased him hard during free agency, and two of the greatest players of all time wanted him as a teammate. Even Melo can't be the best player on a title team, but he's got the cachet to attract the kind of player who can be that kind of star. It's up to Jackson to figure out who that star is going to be.