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If New York Knicks president Phil Jackson had his way, then Carmelo Anthony would return to the Knicks on a “discounted” home-town price. This is the world of multi-million dollar athletes though and most doubt Anthony’s desire to play for a winner at “all-costs.”
Image courtesy of Jennifer Graylock/INFphoto.com
Marc Spears at Yahoo Sports is reporting that although Phil Jackson wants Anthony back at a discount, he still will offer the super-star scorer a max deal.
Jackson has uttered the phrase “man of his word” in reference to Anthony coming back to the city he so desired to play at a discount, which will allow for a better team around him.
This is when the pure-genius of Phil Jackson comes to play.
Jackson, a basketball legend, knows what Carmelo Anthony is: a super-star “scorer,” not super-star “player.” Playing the hand that he “wants” Anthony back, but only at a certain price, puts all of the pressure on the player, and not Jackson himself.
In Jackson’s mind, it simply comes down to the player’s worth. Carmelo is no doubt a good player. He is a player that can be on a winning team, and deserves a rich contract. Jackson, however, does not think he is deserving of a full max-deal that makes it impossible to build a team around him. Anthony is not good enough in the other areas of the game to warrant that either. He has very little court-vision, his defense is terrible, is already 30 years old and he does not show exemplary leadership skills. He is a scorer, and nothing more.
Giving Anthony a max-contract would set the franchise right back up for failure, pinning them in another terrible financial situation. Although this latest report by Yahoo Sports says that Jackson will give Anthony a max-deal, I do not buy it for one second as Jackson is used to playing the media game so well. He puts pressure on Anthony to sign a cheaper deal, and if he refuses (and feels slighted at the very idea of being asked that), then Anthony becomes the villain in the eyes of New Yorkers for walking away. Jackson can then re-build with a clean slate and eventually find that all-around guy to build around.
If Anthony does buy in and gives the Knicks a discount, then the Knicks “rebuilding” phase just took a drastically shorter route. They can add that second super-star during the summer of 2015 that will “fit” Anthony as a player; or even clear more space right now in order to add something.
Look at the success of the Miami Heat and especially San Antonio Spurs recently. The model is acquiring super-star players at a cheaper price, allowing for the team to be better in other areas with that extra money to spend. Tim Duncan made only a shade over $10 million this past season, according to Spotrac.com. Duncan is a super-star.
Phil Jackson knows Carmelo Anthony is a tough player to fit the pieces around (because of his lack of all-around skills). Only the top “players” deserve max contracts, and Anthony is not one of them.