Knicks president Phil Jackson publicly blasted Carmelo Anthony on Tuesday, using a cryptic tweet to call out Anthony’s desire to win and admitting he didn’t ever think he could change him. It was the latest in a bizarre series of moves by the Knicks president but one that seems to have a goal in mind: Jackson no longer wants his job.
By publicly confronting his highest-paid player, Jackson is forcing the franchise to choose between him and Anthony. The way Jackson is doing it suggests he’s either completely foolish and the most incompetent executive in the NBA … or that he is trying to force the Knicks to set him free.
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Why do Jackson’s moves suggest he wants out? Well, they just don’t make any sense otherwise.
The Knicks believe that, to move forward as a franchise, they need to part ways with Anthony and build around young Latvian star Kristaps Porzingis. That’s all well and good. That makes sense.
Holding up this process is the fact that Anthony has a no-trade clause. So for the Knicks to move forward with their plan, they need to get him to agree to a move. Anthony has the power here. Again, all well and making sense so far.
Here’s where things get screwy. If Jackson really wanted to move Anthony, he’d do what any executive would do in this situation – he’d sit down with Anthony and say:
“Carmelo, you’ve been a loyal and fantastic Knick for many years, and we’ll always appreciate everything you’ve done for this franchise. Unfortunately, we as a franchise need to hit the reset button. We let you down in that regard – we never built you a championship team. That’s on us. But we want to start over, and we want to give you the best chance to win a ring on whatever team you want to be on. Los Angeles, Cleveland, wherever you want to go, we want to make sure you’re happy. Can we try to do this?”
Simple enough, right?
This is not what Jackson did.
Jackson went rogue … and public. He questioned Anthony’s desire more than once. Now, he publicly calls him out via a reference to a story in Bleacher Report, which relied on inside information from the Knicks organization. (I wonder who provided that inside info?) He’s taken what should be a private and amicable discussion and made it into a full-on war within the Knicks organization.
Now, instead of eager to go try to get a ring and put an exclamation point on his career, Anthony is combative (why wouldn't he be?) and distrustful of the Knicks organization. Why would he waive his no-trade clause to help a team that seems so determined to humiliate him?
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For people who argue Jackson is just incompetent as an executive and he doesn’t know what he’s doing, I simply can’t believe that. He’s won 11 rings. He’s helped build some of the best teams ever. He’s not this incompetent. I don’t think he could be.
This looks to me like a man who’s made plenty of money and no longer wants to do this. He’s forcing the Knicks' hand and making them choose between him and Anthony. The way he’s doing it suggests he wants it to be Anthony.