Carmelo Anthony won’t allow Knicks president Phil Jackson run him out of New York. In fact, Jackson’s public spats have only strengthened Anthony’s commitment to staying and winning with the franchise, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Anthony has told teammates Jackson won’t stiff-arm him out of town, according to The Vertical, and it appears the Zen Master has “underestimated Anthony’s willingness to stay” in New York.
Instead of discussing trade possibilities with Anthony’s representatives, Jackson has strained their relationship by passively, yet publicly campaigning for the former All-Star to waive his no-trade clause and accept a deal to ship him to a championship contender.
On Tuesday, Jackson signed off via Twitter on a Bleacher Report story critical of the Knicks star’s winning mentality. The column, written by Kevin Ding, highlights the positives and negatives of Anthony’s all-around game, but questions, among other things, his willingness to win.
Bleacher's Ding almost rings the bell, but I learned you don't change the spot on a leopard with Michael Graham in my CBA daze.— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) February 7, 2017
Jackson’s tweet referenced Michael Graham, a Georgetown standout who never panned out as an NBA player and played under Jackson in the Continental Basketball Association. Anthony is a nine-time NBA All-Star and has won three Olympic gold medals.
Jackson has been tied to columns critical of Anthony in the past. In a January column for FanRagSports, Charley Rosen, a close friend and ex-assistant coach of Jackson’s, blasted Anthony for his ball-stopping tendencies and lack of effort on the defensive end.
“The only sure thing is that Carmelo Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York,” Rosen wrote.
Anthony and Jackson met to clear the air, but the situation has since worsened.
Anthony recently said he would consider a trade if the Knicks entered full rebuild mode. Since then, Jackson has offered his star forward at a discount in trade packages to three teams — the Celtics, Clippers and Cavaliers — but each offer has been rejected.
The Knicks have fallen to a 22-31 record amid a turbulent president-player dialogue. It’s clear somebody must go, and Anthony holds his own chips.
Why this changes things
There’s only but so much outside pressure one can take before cracking, and Anthony is undoubtedly at that breaking point. After the Knicks’ loss to Cleveland, he said the never-ending trade rumors were testing his will.
"That's kind of where you have to dig deep at, despite of everything that's going on, that's surrounding -- I don't even want to say us -- me,” Anthony told reporters. “It's testing me. It's testing my will. It's testing me as a human being. It also is making me stronger throughout this process."
The Knicks have continued to spiral downwards while the controversy has grown. If his will was tested then, it will certainly face a cumulative exam as the Feb. 23 trade deadline draws nearer.
Anthony has allies in both Cleveland and Los Angeles, and the Clippers could facilitate a three-team trade to acquire the star forward in exchange for a package that does not include any of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan.
Why this changes nothing
Anthony controls his own destiny holding a no-trade clause. If he can ignore the outside noise, as he’s done professionally so far, there won’t be anything to worry about after Feb. 23.
Winning games would have helped taper some of the trade rhetoric, but the Knicks just haven’t been able to string together consecutive wins. If it’s Anthony’s desire to play the life of his contract, which expires after the 2018-19 season, nothing can stop him from doing so — not even a cranky Zen Master.
On paper, the Knicks still have a talented team highlighted by offseason acquisitions, a budding, young Kristaps Porzingis and still one of the league’s more decorated scorers in Anthony. Even with a 22-31 record, New York still remains just 2.5 games behind Detroit for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
And if the Knicks make the playoffs, all outside noise will stay where it is: outside.
Odds Anthony gets traded
Anthony won’t waive his no-trade clause without a direct path to a championship — and he certainly won’t do so in response to a passive aggressive team president. The only sure fire path to the Finals is a deal to Cleveland, and it’s unclear whether the Cavaliers are willing to part ways with Kevin Love.
Probability a trade happens: 3.5/10