Phil Jackson is no stranger to the subliminal shot. In fact, he could be considered the grandfather of all NBA subtweeting for his various digs at both opposing players and his own roster over the years.
Last year, he came under fire for being critical of Carmelo Anthony’s tendency to hold the ball a little longer than the Knicks president would prefer. Taking digs at his franchise superstar hasn’t helped New York’s oncourt product this year, but that hasn’t stopped Jackson from trying to influence his team in subtle ways. This week, he has figured out an even sneakier way to get his messages out to the media.
Charlie Rosen is a good friend of Phil Jackson and has also published a number of diary entries from the Knicks executive about the team. In essence, he ghostwrites pieces to help put the writing over the top. Rosen wrote a column for FanRag Sports where he suggested that Carmelo was starting to waver on the no-trade clause in his contract. He said:
“Carmelo Anthony’s legs are going, going, almost gone. As ever, he’s still a dangerous scorer but resists any offensive game plan that limits his one-on-one adventures. Moreover, his sticky fingers cause whatever ball-and-player movement is in effect to come to a grinding stop.”
“He’s four months away from his 33rd birthday, his contract is humongous and contains a no-trade clause. It’s understood that he’d only accept being dealt to the Cavaliers or the Clippers.”
“However since his recurring complaint is that everybody blames him for every game the Knicks lose, perhaps Melo is sufficiently disgusted to accept a trade elsewhere. Perhaps to the young, rebuilding Lakers - after all, his wife’s name is La La.”
There is a whole lot to unpack in these quotes. First off, it is hard to tell exactly how much of this is Jackson and how much is Rosen. One thing is clear, the piece is decidedly in favor of the Knicks dumping Melo off at any cost. The writer makes no effort to shift some of the responsibility to Jackson for building an imbalance roster or to his disciple Kurt Rambis for building a terrible defensive scheme.
Also, the Clippers and Cavaliers speculation makes sense because of #teambananaboat, but little else is there. Los Angeles would have to cripple their team to acquire Anthony, and the Cavaliers are the defending champions going for a repeat. Meanwhile, the Lakers just got done wasting a year of their young core’s development catering to a star on the decline, and who wants to see a repeat of that?
New York’s superstar is going to make his decision when the time comes and unfortunately for Rosen and Jackson, that means they are just going to have to make the best of their partnership for however long it lasts.