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Carmelo Anthony on Phil Jackson: No hard feelings

Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony smiles after scoring

Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony smiles after scoring during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. Credit: AP / Jonathan Bachman

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Carmelo Anthony knows Phil Jackson has been critical of him, but he said it doesn't bother him and that he looks forward to talking to the Zen Master.

That time likely will come next week when Jackson is introduced as the Knicks' president of basketball operations.

The Jackson-Anthony relationship will be a critical one for the franchise. Anthony will be a free agent this summer. If Jackson believes Anthony is not his type of player or the organization is better off letting him walk and rebuilding by using the cap space the Knicks are on target to have in 2015, then these could be his last 16 games in a Knicks uniform.

Two years ago, when Jackson said the Knicks' roster was "clumsy" during an HBO interview, he also said, "Carmelo has to be a better passer, and the ball can't stop every time it hits his hands."

Anthony chuckled when that was brought up after practice Friday. "Maybe at that time I was shooting the ball a little bit too much," he said. "I really don't know what to say or how to respond to those comments. In the past, I've heard Phil said some things about me. But I don't take it personal. I don't take it no way. At that point, he was just another guy who had an opinion. So I didn't really take it personal."

Now that opinion matters.

Jackson had a profound effect on the careers of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, two of Anthony's friends. He could do the same for Anthony, although he won't be coaching him.

Anthony and the rest of the Knicks have been talking about Jackson with reverence during the past couple of days. He brings with him a jewelry box full of credibility -- 11 championship rings as a coach and two more from his playing days with the Knicks.

"I'm hoping to sit down and just have a conversation," Anthony said. " At the end of the day, it's Phil Jackson, man."

The Knicks, who will try to earn a season-high sixth straight win Saturday afternoon against the Bucks, are 26-40 and 3½ games out of the Eastern Conference's last playoff spot.

Anthony has said winning a championship is the only thing that matters to him, and Jackson's hiring gives him and the Knicks reason to believe that can happen. "I'm hoping," Anthony said. "I believe so. That's something I'll have to sit down and really figure out at the end of the season . . . We're talking about spending the end of my career in one place. When that time comes, we'll discuss that."

The Knicks can pay Anthony roughly $34 million more than any other team. Jackson's two former teams, the Bulls and Lakers, have been mentioned as possible landing spots for Anthony.

Notes & quotes: Amar'e Stoudemire, who missed Wednesday's game to rest his knees, will return today. Mike Woodson said Tyson Chandler, out the past two games for personal reasons, also will be back.

Woodson was bothered by a report that he could be a candidate for a job at Indiana University, where Tom Crean is the coach and Woodson played collegiately. "I don't like being affiliated with no one's job that a coach is already in position as coach," he said.

He later was asked about the report that Jackson initially was offered the position that he currently has. "I can't control none of that, that's for sure," Woodson said. "But I just think it's ugly in our business when things like that happen because it's not easy being a coach . . . I've got to respect the game and respect the coaching part of it because it is a fragile thing. Guys are caught in it too deeply, then they lose control in terms of what they're about and what they're trying to get accomplished."

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