Pretend for a minute that you are Carmelo Anthony.
Following a grueling, disappointing regular season with the Knicks, you’re taking some time away from work.
All of a sudden, you get word that your new boss, Phil Jackson, wants you to take a pay cut to re-sign with the Knicks.
How do you react?
Surprised? Upset? Indifferent?
If Anthony was angry over Jackson’s demands, would you blame him? I wouldn’t.
Anthony just finished the worst season of his NBA career and, throughout the whole thing, he did his best to remain positive.
He never publicly complained about his teammates or Mike Woodson, and he never ripped management for failing to upgrade the roster. He bemoaned the losing, just as any player with a competitive spirit would. But, no matter how disastrous things became, Anthony never went public over any dissatisfaction with the organization.
Throughout the year, Anthony said again and again that his preference is to re-sign with the Knicks this summer. He even talked in February about taking a pay cut to come back to New York, if it helped the organization attract other free agents.
"Any opportunity I have to build that up in New York, I'd do it. I told people all the time, always say, 'If it takes me taking a pay cut, I'll be the first one on [Knicks owner] Mr. [James] Dolan's steps saying take my money and let's build something strong over here,'" Anthony said at the All-Star break.
So Anthony had already gone public with the idea of taking less money to help the Knicks.
And then Jackson, to the surprise of some long-time observers, came out and said he hoped Anthony keeps his word. Maybe this was Jackson’s way of getting a head start on negotiations, which he has every right to do.
But I wouldn't blame Anthony if he found Jackson’s words off-putting.
It’s one thing to volunteer to take a pay cut. It’s quite another to be told by your new boss it may be required.
And then Jackson had this to say when asked if it would be a "disaster" if the Knicks didn't re-sign Anthony this summer:
"I'm all about moving forward," Jackson said. "Just deal with what is and move forward. If it's in the cards, man, are we fortunate. If it's not in the cards, man, are we fortunate. We're going forward anyway."
If you're of the mind that the Knicks need to re-sign Anthony, you wonder if Jackson’s made a mistake here. By taking a hard-line stance, there’s a chance Jackson has given Anthony another reason to seriously consider a move to Houston or Chicago this summer.
If you look at the Knicks’ potential 2015 cap space and think the team is better off if Anthony signs elsewhere, then you're not worried about Jackson’s message to Anthony.
The Knicks president and the big-name free-agent-to-be sat down for dinner in Manhattan on Tuesday. According to a source, they talked about Steve Kerr, the front-runner for the Knicks’ head coaching job, and free agency.
We're not sure if the two talked about Jackson’s take on Anthony’s potential pay cut. If that subject came up, would you blame Anthony if he suddenly asked for the check? We wouldn’t.
Question: Did Phil Jackson make a mistake by saying he hopes Carmelo Anthony will take a pay cut to stay in New York?
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