Phil Jackson asks Carmelo to delay free agency
GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — Phil Jackson lost out on his preferred coach, but he’s working hard on keeping his star player.
The New York Knicks president said Friday he has talked to Carmelo Anthony about postponing free agency, and the All-Star forward responded that he’ll think about it.
“I told him it might be a good idea to hang in here and see what it’s like for a year, and go out the next year,” Jackson said.
Anthony can opt out of the final year of his contract, which would pay him $23.3 million, and has repeatedly said that was his plan. But Jackson said there are financial benefits to Anthony waiting, for both sides, and told him that during a dinner about a month ago.
“He opened the door and I stuck my foot in it and said this is what we can do,” Jackson said to the team’s beat writers.
Jackson also told Anthony that Steve Kerr would be coming in to coach, a plan that didn’t work out.
Kerr was his first and only known candidate to replace Mike Woodson, and Jackson said Kerr had essentially committed to leave the TNT broadcast booth to take the job. But then the Golden State job opened up when the Warriors fired Mark Jackson, and Kerr preferred that one to remain close to his family in California.
“Unfortunately for him, he committed to me the day before the job opened with Golden State. So I had to kind of release him to actually go to this job and say you have to do what’s right for yourself,” Jackson said. “I understood entirely the process he was going through to have that job open up. That was something he kind of thought would be a good fit for him. So that’s good, we’re happy for him.”
Jackson said he’s been doing some interviews, though wouldn’t name those candidates. He’s interested in talking to Derek Fisher, who played for him in Los Angeles, after Oklahoma City’s season is finished, but ruled out Brian Shaw, his former player and assistant who just completed his first season as Denver’s first coach. The Nuggets have said they are happy with Shaw — and Jackson doesn’t want to give them any compensation even if they would consider letting him leave.
“Brian is under contract with Denver,” Jackson said. “Denver has everything that we owned for the last few years, so there’s nothing else I want to give them.”
He was referring to the exorbitant price the Knicks paid to acquire Anthony from the Nuggets in 2011. It is still costing them even now, as Denver owns the Knicks’ first-round pick next month in Jackson’s first draft in charge.
The deal would hurt even more if Anthony left this summer. But perhaps Jackson, who is a little more than two months into his job, won’t have to worry about it after giving Anthony something to think about that he previously wasn’t considering.
“I’m not losing sleep over it, but I’m definitely concerned about the idea of a guy going into free agency,” Jackson said. “It only takes one bidder out there that has the ability and can ruin your hopes and your chances.
“We will survive it. That’s what I’ve said and we’ll go forward. But this is a guy we recognize his talent and his skill is the kind of skill and talent that gets you through playoff games where things get sticky, grind out and basketball becomes a force game and suddenly you need to have a player who has the capabilities of scoring with someone hanging on them in a situation that’s critical.
“He’s one of those players, one of the few players who can do that.”