NEW YORK –Phil Jackson may be trying to trade Carmelo Anthony because he’s given up trying to change him.
That seemed to be the conclusion Tuesday when the New York Knicks president of basketball operations broke his Twitter silence with another dig at the star forward.
In the tweet, Jackson referred to a column by Bleacher Report writer Kevin Ding that suggested Jackson is frustrated because Anthony doesn’t have the same will to win as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, two of Jackson’s greatest players when he coached.
Jackson tweeted on Tuesday : “Bleacher’s Ding almost rings the bell, but I learned you don’t change the spot on a leopard with Michael Graham in my CBA daze.”
Jackson was referring to Michael Graham, a college star from Georgetown who never enjoyed much success in the pros. Jackson coached Graham with the Albany Patroons of the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association.
Anthony largely shrugged off Jackson’s latest barbs following the Knicks’ 119-115 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday night, saying he didn’t care to ask Jackson’s motivation and was focused only on trying to win games.
“I told you once, I’ll tell you again, I’m in that building every day,” Anthony said. “Until something is said to me directly, then I’m not going to feed into it.”
Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said there wasn’t much talk about Jackson’s tweet among players Wednesday during their morning workout. He said it could be a distraction for the team, but didn’t think it was necessary to discuss it with Anthony.
“We had a couple of these things before and the first time it happened I had texted him and this was, I don’t know, a month or so ago and he goes, ‘No, I’m good, I’m good,”’ Hornacek said. “So like I said, he knows how to handle this stuff and I didn’t feel a need to talk about it. If he wants to talk with Phil about it I’m sure he will.”
It was at least the third time this season that Jackson or someone close to Jackson was critical of Anthony, the 32-year-old forward who remains the best player on the disappointing Knicks. That has triggered reports that Jackson is trying to trade Anthony, who acknowledged recently that the question is wearing on him.
Jackson said in one interview this season that Anthony tends to hold on to the ball too long to be successful in the triangle offence. Then Charley Rosen, a Jackson confidante and former assistant coach, wrote a column that was heavily critical of Anthony , saying his legs are “going, going, almost gone” and that “the only sure thing is that Carmelo Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York.”
Rosen later wrote another piece saying those were his thoughts alone, after Anthony speculated they must be Jackson’s as well. Anthony then met with Jackson and told him his preference was to remain in New York.
Anthony wanted answers then, but said he doesn’t need them now.
“I’m beyond the point where it bothers me,” he said. “Honestly. I’m beyond that.”
He owns a no-trade clause that Jackson gave him when Anthony re-signed with the Knicks in 2014, allowing him to approve any deal. But Jackson has reportedly reached out to the Cavaliers, Clippers and Celtics to see if they would be interested in a trade.
Any move would be difficult, given Anthony’s salary that would be tough for another team to match without dealing back another All-Star calibre player, or multiple players the Knicks may not want.
Jackson hasn’t spoken to reporters in New York since September and hadn’t tweeted since Dec. 27. He won a record 11 championships as a coach, but the Knicks are on pace to miss the playoffs for the third time in his three full seasons as an executive.