What could Phil Jackson's triangle offense do for Carmelo Anthony? The sky is the limit, according to Stacey King, the former Chicago Bulls center who won three rings playing in the triangle in the early 1990s.
"Carmelo is at the same stage Michael Jordan was at before Phil put in the triangle," said King, who currently works as a color commentator on Bulls telecasts. "Right now, the Knicks' offense is get the ball to Carmelo and have four guys standing around. The triangle would take so much pressure off of him. He wouldn't have to do everything."
Though there has been no formal announcement, Jackson is expected to be named to head the Knicks' basketball department Tuesday, according to multiple sources. Though Jackson will not be on the bench, King believes he will bring in his own people and, along with them, the triangle offense that he used to win 11 NBA titles with the Bulls and Lakers.
The triangle offense was developed by Tex Winter at Kansas State. Winter was hired by Bulls general manager Jerry Krause to teach the triangle to Jordan in the 1980s, but coach Doug Collins really didn't have much use for the offense. When Jackson joined Collins' staff in 1987, he and Winter became close, and when Jackson took over for Collins in 1989, he decided to put in the triangle.
The major feature of the triangle offense is, well, a triangle created by a center who stands in the low post, a forward on the wing and a guard in the corner. The other guard stands at the top of the key and the weak-side forward is on the weak-side high post.
King said the offense is not easy to learn. "You have to have a high basketball IQ and you have to have players who are willing to make sacrifices," he said. "You practice all these movements and motions in practice and there are times you get kind of bored of it. But then you get in a game and all of a sudden it's like, 'That's why we practiced this so many times.'
"You don't call plays in the triangle. You just get in it. That's what makes the triangle unguardable.''
Anthony, called the Knicks' decision to hire Jackson "a power move" after their win over the Bucks on Saturday. He said he has yet to talk to Jackson and, like most players, doesn't know much about the triangle offense. "Phil knows what to do and how to build teams and how to win, that's the most important thing," he said. "When you know how to win, whether you're a coach or whether you're in the front office, that stands out."
King, who ran the triangle when he was a coach in the CBA, said one of the most important aspects to making it work is having the right kind of center. "The triangle must have a center who can hold the post and can read and react and make the right passes," he said, adding that he thinks Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire would be able to contribute in the system.
King believes the Knicks have the athletes to make the system work, though they will need to make some tweaks.
"Right now, you have a bunch of guys who have just been playing off their athletic ability,'' he said. "They haven't been required to play in a structured system. With Amar'e, he had the pick-and-roll in Phoenix. Carmelo has always just been roll out the ball for 30. And J.R. Smith just shoots the ball. It's going to be different in the triangle, but I think it will make them better."