Opening Tip: Can Melo improve as leader?

Phil Jackson says he hasn’t talked much about the future with Carmelo Anthony.

But the New York Knicks president certainly talked about the things Anthony can improve upon in the future, particularly from a leadership standpoint. Jackson has already said he wants to keep Melo and it certainly looks like he already has designs on turning Anthony into a better leader.

"Carmelo's really stepped into another level of trying to help players," Jackson said. "One of the things in my conversation [with Anthony] is that he made a critical pass in the Sacramento game down the stretch to Amar'e [Stoudemire] for a dunk.

"He sucked the defense in and made the pass and the play was a two-point ballgame at the time and it really stretched the lead a little bit and gave them an opportunity to win. I think that's one of the things that we see that Carmelo can do and that he's grown as he’s gone along."

Anthony has said that he is open to any changes in his game that Jackson sees fit -- if it will lead to winning a title. Jackson obviously has experience in helping turn prolific scorers such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant into winners and leaders.

He intimated that Anthony can make big strides off the court.

"Those are issues that are not only on the basketball court," Jackson said of where Anthony can improve. "They're off the basketball court, they're in practices, they're in the training room, in the locker room, where players learn to lead and from that standpoint push the team forward with their energy.

"I’ve been fortunate to have coached two of the great ones who have been able to do that in Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant," he added. "But there have been other players too. There's not just those players that do that. There are other players that have to be leaders on your team and that’s what we have to assess as we go forward."

Clearly, Anthony is the alpha on this team and Jackson sounds like he is ready to help Melo take that next step as a leader.

Up now: Phil can see Melo feeling the weight of the burden of the Knicks’ crazy season on his shoulders. Jackson also talks about what he has seen in the Knicks so far.

Other notable items from The State of the Zen address.

Tyson Chandler isn’t alone in thinking that the Knicks can make some noise in the playoffs if they make it. Phil joins the bandwagon.

Jackson says his decision-making won’t be influenced by a strong CAA-Knicks relationship.

What’s next: Knicks look to keep it going against Washington at home at 7:30 p.m. today.

Question of day: Does Carmelo need to be a better leader, and how so?