ORLANDO, Fla. — Phil Jackson’s departure means the Knicks won’t be playing the triangle offense anymore, but it doesn’t necessarily signal that Carmelo Anthony will remain.
Jackson clearly was the driving force in the organization trying to run Anthony out of town. The Knicks are in a rebuilding situation, and trying to develop young players so they have something sustainable. Anthony, 33, doesn’t fit that plan.
Anthony controls his destiny since he has a no-trade clause, which Jackson agreed to give him. Indications are that Anthony wants to stay close to his 10-year-old son Kiyan, who lives in New York. But Anthony also wants to play for a winning team. Which pulls more at Anthony remains to be seen.
ESPN.com reported that Anthony is on the Houston Rockets’ radar. On Wednesday, the Rockets acquired Anthony’s closest friend in the NBA, Chris Paul, in a trade with the Clippers. The report said that the Rockets think they can also land Anthony or Paul George, who several teams are pursuing.
If the Rockets get Anthony, he would be reunited with former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, whose relationship when they worked together was icy at best.
The Rockets spent part of Wednesday acquiring expiring deals and non-guaranteed contracts to make the Paul trade and future deals. The Knicks would rather trade Anthony than buy him out, hoping to get some assets in return for their best player.
There were reports that Anthony’s camp initiated buyout talks with the Knicks, but were rebuffed. Jackson apparently was in favor of letting Anthony go without getting anything in return, according to reports, so the Knicks could continue their youth movement. But Knicks owner James Dolan wasn’t.
That led to a stalemate and ultimately Jackson and the Knicks parted ways.
The Cavaliers, Clippers, Celtics, Wizards and Spurs had been mentioned as possible teams for whom Anthony would waive his no-trade clause. The Clippers are now out since Paul is gone. The Cavaliers don’t have many assets, and made acquiring George their priority, while hoping the Knicks would buy out Anthony. That’s not something the Knicks want to do at this point.
General manager Steve Mills, who is in charge of handling the day-to-day operations right now, will be making these decisions. Mills wasn’t in Orlando where the Knicks summer league team began practice Wednesday so it’s still unclear what direction the franchise is headed.
Coach Jeff Hornacek gave a statement regarding Jackson’s exit, calling it “a tough day.” The statement lasted less than a minute and he wouldn’t take any questions about what offense he would run or the practice.
First-round pick Frank Ntilikina was sitting on the bleachers icing his right knee at the end of practice. He had kinesio tape on his knee and walked gingerly as he left the gym. But when Hornacek was asked if Ntilikina was all right, he said, “We’ll talk about those guys tomorrow.”
Many questions regarding the Knicks remain unanswered.