PORTLAND, Ore. — Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose responded differently when they were first asked about the Knicks going all-in on the triangle offense next season. But neither sounded fully committed to the system.
Anthony didn’t want to talk about next season and Rose brought up his free agency. He wouldn’t rule out a return to the Knicks and said he is leaving all options open, but he said he’s putting winning over money.
Neither player gave a ringing endorsement to Phil Jackson’s favorite system. But coach Jeff Hornacek said Wednesday that the Knicks will be all-in on the triangle from the start of training camp next season. Essentially, players will have to buy in or it will be bye-bye.
“It’s March; I don’t want to talk about that,” Anthony said after Wednesday night’s loss in Utah. “I don’t want to talk about next training camp, kind of what’s going to happen next year. That’s hard for me personally to think about that. We still have these games to deal with. It’s hard to look forward to next season.”
The Knicks, who faced the Trail Blazers on Thursday night, are close to being eliminated from playoff contention for the fourth straight year. They entered Thursday eight games out of the Eastern Conference’s last spot with 11 games left.
Hornacek hopes that with the right mix of players, and staying with one system the whole season, the Knicks can end that streak in 2017-18.
Anthony and Rose haven’t embraced the system. Anthony still doesn’t like to say the word triangle. Rose has called it “random basketball” and complained about having to stand in the corner. But he said he would be open to re-signing even if he’s playing in the triangle.
“I’d be fine,” he said. “I’m just confident with any offense. I think I’ll be able to excel. Just learn the system. With an offense like this, everyone has to be on the same page.’’
Hornacek said a core of Anthony, Rose and Kristaps Porzingis wouldn’t be a playoff team unless everyone bought into the system and played together.
Anthony and Rose both excel in isolation and pick-and-rolls. Earlier in the season, Hornacek tried to play to their strengths. But his comments signaled the first time that he raised the possibility that one or more of the Knicks’ three best players won’t be back.
Anthony could waive his no-trade clause for a winning situation. Rose, who also missed out on the playoffs with the Bulls last season, said he’s putting winning above money.
“This would be the first time I’d be a free agent,” Rose said. “I don’t know how that process goes in the offseason. Me and my agent, my brothers, my family, we’ll have to talk about it.
“Of course I want to be here. Just being in this environment, playing in New York, being at the Garden every other night, it’s a blessing. But once again, I really have to talk it over with my agent and my brothers.
“I’m not even thinking about the money. I’ve got enough money saved. If I was to stop playing basketball now, I’d be all right. I want to win and I want to be happy and feel at peace with myself wherever I’m at.”
The Knicks were 14-10 and 16-13 before the wheels came off. Some of that can be traced to changing how they played.
They ran what Hornacek called “triangle aspects” early, then went away from it, but they have re-emphasized the triangle since returning from the All-Star break. Hornacek said not sticking to one system hurt them, and Anthony agreed.
“It could have,” he said. “Early in the season when we was winning games and went on that little winning streak, we was playing a certain way. Then we went away from that and started playing another way. Everybody was trying to figure out should we go back to playing the way we was playing or try to do something different?
“Earlier we were playing faster, more free flow throughout the course of the game. Then we kind of slowed down, started settling it down, not as fast, the pace slowed down for us as a team. It was something we had to make an adjustment on the fly in limited practice time. Once you get into the season, it’s hard to kind of readjust a whole system.”