Wednesday 21 February 2018 / 08:38 AM


Late on Tuesday night, the NBA world stayed focused on the Wizards and Cavs, and the outliers of the competition from the night in the NBA. There was LeBron James drama, some trash talk on the floor, and some absurd performances across the NBA landscape.

But that’s not what dominated the next morning across the NBA landscape. No, instead it was the same thing that’s dominated the NBA for the better part of two months: the dumpster fire in New York.

Now, your humble NBA writer has already told you that Carmelo Anthony is without a doubt worse than he was before, and is definitely regressing. And by knowing that fact, the Knicks aren’t wrong for wanting to move on from the prolific, yet aging, scorer, and wouldn’t be in the wrong for doing so.

But, the blaming of Melo for the struggles of the Knicks is tried and true, but the Knicks have much bigger problems: Phil Jackson.

If you follow the NBA at all, you know that Knicks fans hate their owner James Dolan. And he’s done some really stupid things, but he’s not changing. So beyond the bad owner, and the play of Anthony, Phil Jackson was brought in the become the middle man.

Professing Anthony as “the next Kobe”, Jackson pledged to his new team and Anthony that he would create a winning environment in New York, and bring Anthony around to winning ways. He was able to convince Anthony that he’d do it too, with Anthony resigning a max contract in 2014 to remain with the Knicks.

And Anthony has made it well known that he wants to remain a Knick, over and over declining his trade option and saying New York is his home.

But Jackson has seen differently. After that 2014 season, Jackson’s perception of Carmelo changed, and the front office slowly began to move away from the idea of Melo as a franchise player. But they stayed pace, namely lofting in the middle of a full rebuild and a half-assed one.

Phil brought in his buddy Derek Fisher, a new coach with zero experience, to be Melo’s fourth in five years. That went as well as you’d hope, and the Knicks were god awful in 2015.

And slowly, Jackson turned the tides from Melo. It started in the media, with Phil talking openly to the media about his displeasure with Melo and the way he plays, but seemed to get pushback during the 2016 year, where Melo was expected to do more with less, with a roster packed with nothing but a rookie from Latvia and some bad players.

So Jackson decided to try and add around Melo, brining in the broken remains of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, and trading almost all the youth on the roster.

And, in result that shocked absolutely no one, the Knicks stink again. But it’s not that New York stinks, we mostly all expected that they wouldn’t be very good, it’s more so the level Jackson has now galvanized his roster, and his star player.

For two seasons, the trade speculation around Carmelo has been rampant. There’s been four confirmed reports of trades brought to Melo that he turned down, and just this season he’s stated he won’t leave the Knicks. Yet the Knicks are publicly and openly shopping the forward, and it rests on Jackson.

The shift to public disparagement has turned ugly, and got even worse earlier this week, with Jackson tweeting a reference to a Bleacher Report article that ripped Melo apart, saying that “it rings the bell”.

And with that, the roster turned, with Melo refusing to publicly bash Jackson, instead circumventing it through sarcastic retort.

And Melo has now reportedly told teammates that Jackson won’t force him out at all, eliminating any chance Carmelo waves his no trade clause to go anywhere.

And just like that, Melo has dug into a trench, and the war between the front office and players has gone nuclear and public.

Never before have I seen someone openly destroy his current best player, and do it as often as Jackson. Now, forcing fans to choose sides. And Jackson may not like that result.

And with no way to remove Anthony, it’s Jackson who should be shown the way out for how poorly he’s handled this.

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About the author

Austin Albertson

Austin is CBS' senior NFL and NBA analyst, bringing you commentary on everything between the lines and inside the hashes, from the film room to the scoreboard.

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