NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It seems Madison Square Garden is no longer big enough for both Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony. According to a report, Anthony thinks there’s a chance he could be the last one standing.
The star forward has told confidants that he may stand firm on his no-trade clause at the Feb. 23 deadline and see what the Knicks president does with his career, the New York Post reported.
Jackson has been trying to deal the nine-time All-Star for weeks, but Anthony would have to waive his no-trade clause.
Anthony has said repeatedly he wants to remain a Knick, although he hasn’t completely shut the door on being traded. He said last week his family will weigh heavily into his decision, saying his wife has plenty of career opportunities in New York and his son is comfortable in the city.
The Knicks have reportedly contacted the Cavaliers, Clippers and Celtics to gauge their interest in Anthony.
Jackson, 71, has an opt-out clause in his contract, but it’s not clear if it begins on the March 19 anniversary of his 2014 hiring or after the season. There’s also the possibility that the Zen Master, who has failed to convert the Knicks into the winner he promised three years ago, could be fired. New York is 22-32 — 12th place in the Eastern Conference.
The relationship between Jackson and Anthony has soured this season. Jackson complicated matters further Tuesday by taking a veiled shot at Anthony on Twitter.
“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 wrote.
The cryptic message appears to largely endorse a column published by Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding on Tuesday. In it, Ding writes that Jackson overestimated his own ability to convert Anthony from “superstar to winning superstar.” The columnist suggests Anthony lacks the drive to win a championship.
Jackson’s tweet also references Graham, a once-promising power forward out of Georgetown whom he coached on the Continental Basketball Association’s Albany Patroons in the 1980s. Graham was undisciplined and got kicked off the team after getting into an argument with Jackson during a game.
Anthony was visibly annoyed when asked about the tweet Wednesday night, but he tried to defuse the situation with some humor.
“I definitely wasn’t googling who Michael Graham was,’’ Anthony said. “I was upset he got the animal wrong. I’m not a cheetah. I’m black jaguar.
“I’m done asking why. I don’t need an explanation. I’m beyond the point of it bothering me.”
There have been other flareups in the Jackson-Anthony relationship this season.
Anthony sided with friend LeBron James after Jackson, in an ESPN interview in November, called James’ entourage “a posse.” “I would never want to hear that word about me and my — I don’t want to say crew — but people that I consider family or people that I come up (with), been through thick and thin with,” Anthony said.
In December on the CBS Sports Network’s “We Need to Talk,” Jackson criticized Anthony for holding the ball too long. Anthony responded with a pair of Instagram posts. In the first, he wrote: “EGO is the only requirement to destroy any relationship. So, be a BiGGER person, skip the ‘E’ and let it ‘GO.’” The second post included a photo of Muhammad Ali surrounded by arrows, with Anthony writing, “UN-Phased (MyLifeSummedUpInOnePhoto).”
And in January, FanRag Sports’ Charley Rosen, Jackson’s biographer and confidant, wrote a column saying Anthony had outlived his usefulness in New York. Some observers believed that opinion might have been conveyed to Rosen by Jackson, although the writer denied that he had spoken to the Knicks president before publishing the piece. Jackson, however, did little to reassure Anthony he was still wanted in the organization.