INDIANAPOLIS – Carmelo Anthony issued something of an ultimatum on the final day of another lost season, sending a stronger message to Phil Jackson about his desire to be part of the big summer decisions. “If I’m going to be a part of this organization and the future of this organization, then I want to be a part of the decision-making in some way shape or form,” the star said before sitting out Tuesday’s loss to the Pacers.
There was a lot to dissect with that comment and from a 12-minute interview session with Anthony, who owns a no-trade clause and can orchestrate a relocation. For starters, there’s a potential coaching search – and Anthony gave his hardiest endorsement Tuesday for the interim, Kurt Rambis, while criticizing Derek Fisher’s tenure. But Anthony was more open about free agency, acknowledging he ponders potential future teammates frequently. “I’ve looked at the list. I look at the list every day,” he said.
If Rambis is correct, though, that list can be cut based on an ability to work within the triangle. One of the players Anthony has openly campaigned to acquire, Rajon Rondo, has already declared he’s not a good fit for Jackson’s system.
YOU’RE THE GM: KNICKS KEEP ‘EM, DUMP ‘EM INTERACTIVE
Carmelo Anthony says he wants to be included in the Knicks offseason plans when it comes to bringing in free agents that can help turn the fortunes of the team around.
Kevin Durant is the top free agent, but is not considering the Knicks, according to sources. “It shouldn’t be a balance (between finding players to fit a system and building a system around the players). It’s whatever decision you want to make,” Rambis said. “The decision with management is to get players who fit into the system. Neither way is wrong. It’s about your mindset and what you want to do. And I think the whole process has been to get players who we feel will fit into the system.”
Many NBA teams work vice versa and build a system around their players, with the Spurs’ evolution serving as a shining example. For the Heat to be successful with LeBron James, it required a system change from Erik Spoelstra to fit the personnel. But the talk lately from Rambis has indicated the Knicks are locked into the triangle, a system that may prove a tough sell in free agency. Anthony, who said he’s “tired of saying the word triangle,” had a different take.
Tired of hinting that he’d like to be part of Knicks’ decision making process, Carmelo Anthony makes it clear that this is not an option.
“I think all good players can adapt to whatever system it is out there. I don’t want the players that we are trying to go after to put too much into the actual thinking of the system,” he said. “If you’re a ballplayer, you’re a ballplayer. You come to work, you play hard, you be part of what we have going on here. Then, just like any other system, you have to learn.”
Rambis has declared the 2014-15 season – the first full one under Jackson – as essentially a waste on the court, an 82-game assessment as the roster was cleansed. That team lost a franchise-record 65 games under Fisher, who was fired because, among other reasons, he abandoned the triangle.
Anthony said Fisher taught the system poorly and called last season “a total disaster as far the process goes.” He also alluded to the disconnect between Fisher and Jackson’s hand-picked assistants, Rambis and Jim Cleamons. “I don’t think (the triangle) was expressed to us as players clearly from Day 1. I thought it was different messages to the players about the actual triangle. I actually get tired of saying the word triangle, to be honest,” Anthony said. “But I thought it was definitely different messages that were being sent out there from last year to this year. And then we finally got some continuity out there where everybody was on the same page. So now it’s just a matter of getting better at it.”
Phil Jackson has a lot of work to do to correct the mess that is the Knicks.
Anthony has ties to the people’s choice for Knicks coach, Tom Thibodeau, through Team USA. He plans to play under Thibodeau – an assistant under Mike Krzyzewski — in Brazil this summer. Another candidate the Knicks are reportedly planning to interview, David Blatt, would probably not get an endorsement from Anthony’s good buddy LeBron James. Anthony didn’t get into specific names Tuesday but hopes to unload all those thoughts during his exit interview with Jackson and GM Steve Mills Thursday. He also wants his opinion heard. Last year, Anthony was not involved in decision-making and was not happy about it.
“My conversation with them is to be open and honest about what’s going on, about transparency, how we can make this situation better and what we’re going to do to make this situation better,” Anthony said.
“At the end of the day, nobody loves this feeling, nobody wants to lose. We work too hard as players to be in this situation right now. Even though we almost doubled our wins from last year, we made some strides in certain areas. But now we got to continue to build on that.”