With the NBA regular season officially over its time for teams to start gearing up for next year. One team, in particular, didn’t waste any time in making moves. The New York Knicks made one of the most important decisions in the NBA so far. By picking up the 2-year option on Phil Jackson’s contract, James Dolan just drew a line in the sand.
The 2016-17 season for the Knicks was a nightmare. The team started sluggishly out the gate and never found their footing. There were high-profile players like Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Courtney Lee added but the chemistry was shot from the very beginning. From the start, the finger was pointed at the injuries and off-court issues the team were dealing with but as the season progressed, a bigger problem loomed.
Phil Jackson vs Carmelo Anthony.
Their feud wasn’t a feud until the trade deadline approached. However, when it hit that Jackson wanted Melo gone, Knicks fans were 50/50 on the idea. If Jackson were to trade Carmelo it could provide the Knicks with an opportunity to rebuild much faster than it took the Philadelphia 76ers. It was a noble idea Jackson had but here’s the thing. Anthony is the only tie to keep the team in prime-time games and butts in the seats. It’s not that Jackson wanted him gone that drove fans insane, it was his approach.
Countless attacks in the media portraying Melo as a ball hog and not wanting to play within the team’s offense was often Phil’s direction. While Jackson was dusting off his Zen tactics and trying to sour fans on Anthony, what he did was turn that 50 percent who felt trading Carmelo was a good thing, they now saw Jackson as the devil. With the losses mounting, Jackson also tried to trade Rose but there were no takers.
As the season came to an end Carmelo had this to say about his feelings towards Jackson.
“If somebody was talking bad about you indirectly at your job, what would you do? You would feel a certain way,” Anthony said. “You would want that person to come straightforward with you. And I feel the same way. I’m always open. I’m a very honest person. I know the business and I know the game and I know how it works. So if it’s something that you want to get across, a message that you want to get across, I’ve always been open.”
Right there is the reason the signing of Jackson for another two years means the end for Melo. Carmelo has said numerous times that he loves the city and the team and wants nothing more than to stay a Knick. However, the team would love to move forward but Melo holds the keys. By Dolan keeping Jackson, it sends a message to Carmelo that he must make a decision. The entire NBA knows that Jackson nor Dolan wants Melo there which puts the Knicks in a tight spot.
How do you go after high-quality free agents who know the moment the teams starts to struggle Jackson will run to the media with some back-handed compliment or shade? Or, why would anyone want to come to a team that has no loyalty to its star players? Dolan is doing everything possible to push Melo out the door without publicly saying so.
For Anthony, this is a nightmare. Melo has stated that he didn’t trust Phil afterward and with that being said, the Knicks went and picked up his option. The move spoke volumes as to what the organization thinks about Melo.
At the end of the day, Jackson has 12 rings and Carmelo has none. But Melo has the city behind him and that all-important NTC.