Just like everything else around the New York Knicks this season, the move to add Phil Jackson as the organization's chief decision-maker has to be viewed through one prism: How will it affect Carmelo Anthony?
Below, we take a look at how Phil's takeover could affect Carmelo’s future:
1. It's all about rings: When it comes to free agency, Carmelo's most consistent message throughout this season has been about his desire to win a ring. He has said again and again that his sole focus for the rest of his career is to capture his first NBA title.
If that's the case, it's natural to conclude that the hiring of Jackson would help lead Carmelo to re-sign with the Knicks.
Jackson has a record 11 NBA titles as a head coach and one as a player (in 1973, with the Knicks).
He has the best winning percentage among NBA head coaches with at least 10 seasons in league history (.704).
So if Anthony wants to work for a guy who knows how to win, he'd stick with Phil's Knicks.
But Jackson doesn't have the power to change the rules of the CBA. So even the Zen Master can't change the fact that, barring a trade of Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler or Andrea Bargnani, the Knicks will be over the salary cap this offseason and unable to significantly reshape the roster.
Will Anthony be willing to wait another season before Phil can build a championship contender in 2015? And does he trust that Jackson -- who has no experience as an executive -- will have the chops to succeed as a top executive?
For those who believe Anthony is a lock to re-sign with the Knicks because they can offer a contract worth one more season and $33 million more than another team, think again.
Anthony's close friend -- a friend intimately involved in his future decision -- told people back in February that he wasn’t sure if Anthony was going to return to the Knicks. The recent three-game winning streak aside, New York hasn’t done much in the past six weeks to cause Anthony to change his mind.
2. Will Phil want Melo? If Jackson is given full autonomy to rebuild the Knicks, he may choose to blow up the roster and start over. That approach could include letting Carmelo walk as a free agent.
Choosing not to re-sign Carmelo wouldn't necessarily help the Knicks in the short term. But next year, the Knicks would have the expiring contracts of Stoudemire ($23.4 million), Chandler ($14.6 million) and Bargnani ($11.5 million) coming off the books. So New York would have a lot of cap space and a first-round draft pick heading into the summer of 2015.
That's not a bad place to be for a rebuilding team.
There has been much speculation about whether owner James Dolan will give Jackson -- or any other employee he asks to run the Knicks -- full autonomy. If Phil lets Carmelo walk, it would be clear that he has full control of the team. After all, Dolan moved heaven and earth to obtain Anthony in a blockbuster trade with Denver in 2011. He wouldn’t be inclined to let Carmelo go.
But if Phil is truly the Knicks’ ultimate decision-maker, Dolan’s opinion wouldn’t alter the team's decision.
3. What about CAA? At the moment, Jackson is not represented by Creative Artists Agency, the power broker with strong ties to the Knicks.
If Jackson were to take over the Knicks, it could impact CAA's relationship with the team.
Currently, several important members of the Knicks' hierarchy are represented by CAA.
If CAA loses some of its power within the organization, would it try to guide Anthony away from the Knicks? Maybe to Chicago, where Tom Thibodeau (repped by CAA) is coaches the Bulls?
This, of course, is pure conjecture. There's nothing to suggest that CAA can force Anthony's decision. He will likely do what's best for him and his future. But it's a dynamic worth considering.
What's next: The Knicks will play the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.
Question: How do you think the arrival of Phil Jackson will affect Carmelo Anthony's free agency?
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