Padanilam: Anthony should leave New York on his terms
Benjamin Padanilam | Friday, April 21, 2017
Somebody needs to give Carmelo Anthony a hug.
But more importantly, somebody needs to get the man out of New York.
If you’ve watched any NBA basketball at all this season, then you’re probably well aware of the situation: The New York Knicks were one of the NBA’s most disappointing teams, as their play was so embarrassing that it didn’t warrant any attention from the media.
But the organization got plenty of it, and it was largely because of everything that happened off the court surrounding the tumultuous relationship between Anthony and team president Phil Jackson.
The most recent jab came last Friday, when Jackson told the media: “We’ve not been able to win with [Anthony] on the court at this time. I think the direction with our team is that he’s a player that would be better off somewhere else.” In essence, Jackson publicly made Anthony shoulder the load for the Knicks struggles since he’s been in charge, failing to take responsibility for his own inability to put a team or coach around Anthony and rising star Kristaps Porzingis.
And this was just two days after Anthony publicly said he would love to return to the Knicks as long as winning now was still their top priority.
But, you see, that’s been the problem all season with Jackson: He cannot seem to keep his critical thoughts to himself, and he’s made himself and the Knicks look terrible by going public with them each and every time.
In December, Jackson essentially called Anthony a ball hog, citing his tendency to hold on to the ball as part of the Knicks offensive struggles, particularly within the triangle system. The problem with that, of course, is the Knicks had hardly run the triangle offense up to that point in the season, as head coach Jeff Hornacek had admitted.
Then in February, after Bleacher Report published an article questioning Anthony’s desire to win, Jackson took another public shot at Anthony, this time via Twitter. He said the article “almost [rang] the bell” and “you don’t change the spots on a leopard.” Anthony, par for the course, took the criticism in stride — even though it followed a column in January from a longtime Jackson confidant, which stated Anthony had outlived his usefulness in New York — and simply questioned why Jackson always took the opportunity to criticize him in his public media appearances.
And many people around the league have only been able to watch the situation unravel and wonder the same thing.
Jackson’s criticisms, accurate or not, have no place in the public sphere. On multiple occasions, he has crossed the line in using the media to ostracize Anthony and pin his own failings on the face of the franchise.
But with these latest comments, Anthony now has the leverage to get himself out of New York before Jackson wastes more of the time Anthony has left in his career.
It’s now explicitly clear that Jackson wants Anthony out of New York. But due to Anthony’s no-trade clause, Jackson entirely lacks the ability to force him out.
And that is why Anthony should stay in New York as long as he can, forcing Jackson to pay out his contract until the end. And if Jackson wants to get rid of him, Anthony should give him no choice but to cut him — a solution that provides Anthony the rest of the money on his deal and still gives him the chance to go to a team that, unlike the Knicks, will respect his ability and give him the chance to do exactly what he’s always said he’s wanted to do: win.
Because sure, Anthony might never be the top-five player he was in his athletic prime. But he’s still a near-elite scorer who can play a key role on a championship team, as he is coming off a season in which he averaged 22.4 points per game despite the distractions and constant questions about his future.
With the career he’s had thus far and the maturity he has shown through it all, Anthony deserves better than the way he has been treated this season. He deserves better than the assaults made against his game and character at this stage of his career. And he deserves better than the joke that is Phil Jackson’s New York Knicks.
Which is exactly why he should stick it to Jackson while he has the chance.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.