Phil Jackson sounds like he is a Carmelo Anthony fan, but he believes he can get better, and the new Knicks president wants it to happen in New York.
Jackson said Anthony is a big part of the Knicks' future, and that the plan remains to try and build around him.
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"No doubt," Jackson said Tuesday at his introductory news conference. "There's no doubt about Carmelo being one of the top scorers in the league, maybe the best individual isolation player in the game. I have no problems with committing to saying Carmelo is in the plans.
"I think there are a number of things I see Carmelo doing as he moves forward, and I think I was on record saying a year ago that I think Carmelo, as great a player as he is, still has another level he can go to. And I hope together, with the team we create, he can get there."
Anthony has said he is going to opt out of his contract after this season and test free agency. He can make the most money by re-signing with the Knicks, who can pay him about $34 million more than any other team.
But Anthony also has said being on a team that can contend for a championship consistently matters more to him than the money.
The Knicks have gone backward after winning 54 games last season. They're 27-40 heading into tonight's game against Indiana and are 41/2 games out of the East's final playoff spot.
The Bulls will have money to spend this summer and could use a scorer like Anthony, and the Rockets reportedly have interest in the seven-time All-Star. But Jackson's arrival could help keep Anthony in New York.
Anthony said Monday that he would be willing to change his game if Jackson asked him to and it improved his chances of winning a title. Anthony would adjust if -- and when -- Jackson's triangle offense becomes the Knicks' system.
Jackson said on ESPN Radio yesterday that there is hope and reason for Anthony to remain a Knick.
"I think the best opportunity is to stay," Jackson said. "Financially, it's a better opportunity. I also think the ability to win in New York is such a lure, such a magnet to players to be in a place where the game matters, fans matter, they care about the game. All these things make New York a great place for Carmelo to stay here. He's grown accustomed to living here.
"There's hope. There's strong hope and a strong reason for him to stay."
Jackson talked about bringing in scoring help to take some of the pressure off Anthony. Great scorers including Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant excelled in Jackson's system, and he thinks Anthony can succeed in it, also.
"Carmelo's had a load to carry this year, obviously a scoring load, and he's remarkable in that," Jackson said at the news conference. "He showed in the last Olympics that coming off the bench and playing a role as a bench player on a magnificent team that won a gold medal that he can play a role if he has to play a role.
"I think he's a basketball player and that's what players want to be able to do. They want to be able to cut, to pass, to be in different spots on the floor, to attack or to play. I think that Carmelo will be just fine. I see no problem in it."