OAKLAND — Carmelo Anthony says he would never “accept” Phil Jackson coaching only home games next season and while Anthony isn’t opposed to Kurt Rambis becoming head coach he implored Jackson to consider other candidates as well.
In his most candid comments this season about the Knicks messy coaching situation, Anthony completely dismissed the notion of Jackson coaching 41 home games next season while Rambis would presumably coach the road games. The scenario was raised in an ESPN story late Monday.
“Nah, nah, nah. I don’t think that should be accepted,” Anthony said on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t accept that if that was the case. Phil is cool man. He doesn’t need to be on the sidelines no more. He put so many years into this game. He’s cool. He doesn’t need to be on the sideline. I don’t think he’s thinking about coming back down on the sideline. I hope not. Let him ride on out. Let him sit out and be the president.”
Anthony doesn’t believe that Jackson can physically handle the rigors of an 82-game season, which includes practices and travel.
“He’s 72? He’s 70 years old. He actually looks pretty good for his age,” Anthony said. “But he doesn’t want to deal not just with the game of basketball but the strenuous schedule and having to mentally get focused for games and prepared for players and prepared for teams and sit on the sidelines. I don’t think he wants to deal with that. I think just the grind of the NBA season, I don’t think he wants to deal with that.
“Phil ain’t coaching no more man. So let’s (kill) that rumor. Phil ain’t coaching no more.”
Rambis added that Jackson has “never given me an indication that he wants to coach again.” That subject first came up several years ago when there was talk about Jackson coaching only home games with the Lakers. However, former Lakers owner Jerry Buss ruled it out.
Anthony had the same sensible take as well and he also provided even more logic by indicating that Jackson should talk to other qualified coaching candidates.
“I think you still have to go out there and at least listen to other candidates out there,” Anthony said.
This marked the first time that Anthony has said publicly that Jackson should conduct a coaching search. It also comes four days after Jackson gave Rambis a strong endorsement in Los Angeles to retain his job title after this season. Jackson has given no indication that he is considering other candidates and most league executives and coaches believe that Rambis is his one and only choice. Garden Chairman James Dolan would have to sign off on the hiring.
Anthony does have a connection to two available candidates, Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks. Anthony visited Thibodeau and the Chicago Bulls during free agency two summers ago. Also, Thibodeau is an assistant coach for the United States national team. Brooks was in an assistant coach in Denver under George Karl when Anthony played there and the two had a good relationship.
The Knicks are 5-9 since Rambis replaced Fisher last month. Rambis is close with Jackson off the court and he shares his same philosophy about how the team should play.
“I think you consider Kurt at that job,” Anthony said. “(Jackson) brought Kurt here for that reason if anything was to happen and the situation is here for him now. I think it’s just more of seeing how Kurt handles the situation right now, how the team does, how the team responds to Kurt.”
Jackson’s next choice for a head coach could be a pivotal moment in his run as Knicks president, especially with his first hire, Fisher, not lasting two seasons. Anthony’s revelation that Jackson should talk to other candidates could be viewed as Anthony not be fully confident that Rambis can turn the team around and/or that he is not in favor of playing in the triangle offense.
Anthony is walking a fine line because while he believes he should have some input regarding the coach he doesn’t want to be viewed as the player who forced the current coach out. Two years ago, Anthony nearly broke down after the final game of the season as he gave a public endorsement to Mike Woodson, who was eventually fired.
But with the Knicks on the verge of a third straight losing season and Anthony turning 32 next season that he needs to voice his opinion on such important matters as deciding the next head coach of the Knicks.