Carmelo Anthony was smiling, but there was no mirth behind it.
“Aw, c’mon, man,” he said Wednesday night when asked about Phil Jackson’s latest criticism of him. “Thank you, man. Sorry, man, I don’t want to answer those questions.”
Always smiling, he tried to leave the media scrum before doubling back to answer a few more queries. “I don’t even know what he said . . . Whatever Phil said, he said. I have nothing to say about that.”
On Tuesday, the Knicks’ president told CBS Sports that Anthony holds the ball for too long and that this could compromise movement in his triangle offense. By Thursday, Anthony had cross-posted two images on Twitter and Instagram that made it appear he had heard the message.
The first post, a black-and-white photo of him smiling while looking over his shoulder, read, “EGO is the only requirement to destroy any relationship. So, be a BIGGER person, skip the ‘E’ and let it ‘GO.’ #StayMe7o.”
The second is a photo of Muhammad Ali being pegged by arrows but grabbing hold of the one headed toward his face. That one, Anthony said, represented his life, summed up in one photo.
Though Anthony still hasn’t directly responded to Jackson, it seems apparent that he isn’t happy with what’s going on. Unfortunately for the Knicks, the timing could not be worse.
On Friday night, they open a five-game, 11-day West Coast road trip that could dramatically affect their season. They begin it with an ailing Derrick Rose (back) and on the heels of a 32-point loss to the Cavaliers.
Despite all that, they have every opportunity to make headway: Four of the five teams they face are at the bottom of the Western Conference — first-place Golden State is the only exception — and they open with the Sacramento Kings, whom they beat on Sunday. Before the loss to the Cavaliers, the Knicks had won four straight.
“You go on the road, no wins are easy,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “We’ve got to come out with the intensity every game no matter who the opponent is. We’ve got to be on the attack rather than be back on our heels. You got to play that way on the road and make smart plays.”
There’s every possibility that Anthony will be motivated by the chip on his shoulder, but the Rose situation is more tenuous. After leaving Tuesday night’s game in Miami in the third quarter, Rose reported weakness in his entire right side. He was sore enough on Wednesday that, though the Knicks didn’t believe there was anything structurally wrong with him, doctors ordered an MRI. That test came back negative. He is listed as day-to-day.
“That hurts us,” Courtney Lee said. “He’s one of the key guys, he’s one of the facilitators and he’s one of the guys that plays aggressive on the defensive end.”
Hornacek believes the injury is “typical wear and tear” but could give no update on Wednesday whether Rose will be available Friday night. Rose did not speak to the media on Wednesday and Thursday was a travel day.
As for the rest of the Knicks, by the time they tip off against the Kings, they will have had two days to contemplate the indignities handed to them by the Cavaliers.
“We just want to put this game behind us,” Anthony said. “It was overall a terrible night . . . I don’t want to let this game linger when we have the opportunity to go on the road and do something good.”