The New York Knicks’ increasingly uneasy relationship with Carmelo Anthony appears to be nearing an end after club president Phil Jackson said Friday (Saturday in Manila) the star forward would be “better off somewhere else”.
Speaking at a press conference after a season in which the Knicks failed to make the playoffs for a third straight campaign, Jackson indicated nine-time All-Star Anthony wasn’t a good fit for the team’s rebuilding plans.
“I think the direction with our team is that he would be better off somewhere else,” Jackson said.
Tensions mounted between Jackson and Anthony in January, when a columnist known to be a confidant of Jackson wrote that the player had outlived his usefulness in New York.
The two met in a bid to hash things out, with Anthony reportedly telling Jackson he wanted to stay put.
Anthony, who has a no-trade clause in his contract and would have to sign off on any deal, admitted this week he found the back and forth during the season wearing.
“If somebody was talking bad about you indirectly at your job, what would you do?” he said. “You would feel a certain way. You would want that person to come straightforward with you.”
Jackson’s comments came a day after the Knicks exercised their option to keep the coaching legend as team president for the remaining two years on his contract.
Jackson, 71, and the team could have gone their separate ways during the off-season under the terms of his five-year deal.
Jackson is the most successful coach in NBA history, having led the Michael Jordan-inspired Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships between 1989 and 1998. He followed that with five NBA titles between 2000 and 2010 at the Los Angeles Lakers.
He retired from coaching in 2011 before joining the Knicks as an executive in 2014. Under Jackson as team president, on an annual salary of $12 million, the Knicks have gone 80-166.