Phil Jackson returns to talk about Carmelo Anthony's place in his offense, MJ vs. Kobe and more

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Phil Jackson returns to talk about Carmelo Anthony's place in his offense, MJ vs. Kobe and more
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Several NBA team presidents, coaches, general managers, and out and out personalities will be going on record in the coming weeks for extended interviews pitched to promote their team’s upcoming season. We’re going to ignore most of them, unless the participants decide to say something outrageous or actually deign to say something telling about the state of their team, because carefully constructed pablum is the order of the day with these things. That’s completely understandable – these are businesses lousy with hundreds of egos to mind.

Phil Jackson, though, will always be interesting. The New York Knicks, even though they’ve made just one second round appearance since George W. Bush’s third month in office during his first term, will always be interesting.

Pair Phil Jackson with his first executive gig, handing the reins over to a rookie coach in Derek Fisher who was wearing shorts to work some four months ago, working within the toxic James Dolan/MSG atmosphere, attempting to bring a semblance of space to New York’s offense and sensibility to the team’s front office along the way?

I don’t care if this is a glorified press release. We’re going to read it. From the New York Post:

Q: Hawks GM Danny Ferry recently made comments about Carmelo in which he reportedly said: “He can shoot the [bleep] out of it, but he screws you up in other ways. So is he really worth $20 million? I would argue if he plays the right way, absolutely.”

A: I think there’s probably 15 players in the NBA that are very similar position. I don’t know if all of ’em are paid $20 million, but the coaches and GMs are talking about it in those type of terms — how much does this guy hurt your team, or hurt the game flow because he’s trying to score. The attempt to score, the need to score, the pressure that he feels he has to score. … Does he take away from the team game? That’s what Danny’s talking about there. And that’s where Carmelo’s gonna move forward this year in that situation — the ball can’t stop. The ball has to continually move. It moves, or goes to the hoop on a shot or a drive or something like that. In our offense, that’s part of the process of getting players to play in that rhythm.

Q: And Jordan had to make that adjustment too, right?

A: Michael had to be able to share the ball, other people had to get shots, only so many shots available out there. And when someone’s taking 27 a game or something? 25 a game, that’s maybe a third of the shots. That can’t happen in basketball.

Q: Is Carmelo on board with this?

A: All we talked about in our negotiation was, “I’d like not to have to feel like I have to carry the load to score every night.” He wants some help.

We’ve done quite a bit of piling onto Danny Ferry (and rightfully so) over the last few weeks, so it seems a bit odd to continue in these efforts in light of revelations that tend to fall in line with what far too many NBA fans, media, and professional executives think.

With that in place, we’re not in Denver, and this isn’t 2005. Carmelo Anthony is not a sieve defensively, and the ball doesn’t stick to his hands nearly as much as it has in years past. Anthony has taken a few steps back from time to time in his first few years with the Knicks, the 2012 playoff run was a bit of a downer along those lines, but despite his scoring instincts he seems primed for a well-run triangle offense. His ability to quickly flash to the post, nail mid-range jumpers and finish in the lane off of a cut and pass are more than suited for this potential setup.

The question is whether or not the Knicks have the personnel in place for such a setup, questions we’ll attempt to answer as we take in the Knicks’ 2014-15 season as a whole in the coming days, and questions the Knicks themselves will have to answer as they try to jump over the .500 mark and into the playoffs.

Beyond that? Will Carmelo Anthony be worth nearly $28 million in 2019? No way. Did he choose money and love for his adopted hometown over the chance to play for an immediate winner? Of course, and there’s no shame in that.

Is he right for Phil Jackson’s beloved offense? In Phil’s mind, everybody is right for the triple-post offense.

Almost. From the Post:

Q: How do you plan to try to get through to J.R. Smith to put an end to all his immature on- and off-the-court antics?

A: I don’t know if that’s possible or not. He might be one of those guys that’s a little bit like Dennis Rodman that has an outlier kind of side to him. But I’m gonna get to know him as we go along, and we’ll find a way to either make him a very useful player on our organization, or whatever.

“Or whatever.”

Then there’s this lovely aside, regarding his approach to re-mixing game tape between contests:

Q: And you used to splice in movies. “Pulp Fiction” was one of them.

A: Many movies. Maybe the first one was “The Wizard of Oz.” … I had a player that consistently went to the hoop, got knocked down, and didn’t understand the fact that if you don’t score and you go to the hoop and you get knocked down and you’re a guard, 5-on-4’s gonna beat you, you’re not gonna get back on defense. So the opening thing when the movie turns to color, and she says, “We’re not in Kansas anymore,” that was kinda like the opening line. But then I had someone that needed to grow heart and somebody who needed to grow mind and so forth, and courage, so it was all about that.

That player was B.J. Armstrong who is actually from Detroit and went to college in Iowa but, yeah … move the ball Tin Man.

And this bit, on Kobe Bryant’s advantage over Michael Jordan when it came to hurling 1000 jumpers a day:

Q: Is Kobe Bryant the model for Carmelo Anthony?

A: No. No one can approach that. I don’t expect anybody to be able to model their behavior after that, although Kobe modeled his behavior a lot about Michael Jordan, but he went beyond Michael in his attitude towards training, and I know Mike would probably question me saying that, but he did.

Nobody was a bigger competitor than Michael Jordan, but MJ also loved his golf. Kobe? Outside of his love for Italian engines and liberal use of junior high-level curse words in on-record interviews, he’s all about basketball. And where Jordan might sneak in 54 holes during some random Wednesday in July, Dr. Bryant was firing up jumper after jumper in the gym.

The conversation moved on to utilize more MSG-parsed out talk about Steve Kerr intelligently taking on a better job in Golden State, and the quickness in which he won championships in New York as a player, Los Angeles as a coach, and in Chicago during his second season as a head coach in comparison to his newest gig.

It’s all well worth your time, even if you can tell the talk was heavily moderated. And Part II comes tomorrow.

Welcome back, Phil.

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Kelly Dwyer

is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!