Throughout his Hall of Fame coaching career that included six championships with the Bulls, Phil Jackson developed a well-earned reputation for getting stars to buy in to a greater team concept.
If Jackson is able to replicate that success in one of his first moves as an executive, the NBA free agent market will be a lot less attractive this summer.
Jackson, the Knicks’ new president, revealed in a lengthy session with beat reporters Friday that he advised Carmelo Anthony to opt in for the final season of his current contract and delay free agency until the summer of 2015. Jackson said Anthony told him he will “think about it.”
“He has the right to (opt out),” Jackson told reporters at the Knicks’ practice facility. “But I just offered that as, ‘Look, this gives you an opportunity to see how this is going to change, see how we’re going to get going, your relationship to the team and the coach and the system or whatever.”
Throughout last season, Anthony repeatedly stated his intention to exercise his early termination clause and become a free agent on July 1. The Bulls and Rockets are two teams that have been consistently linked to pursuing Anthony.
If Anthony opts in for 2014-15 and delays his free agency, the Knicks would be able to re-sign him while adding another big-salaried player in 2015 because the contracts of Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani all expire then.
“That’s a point of emphasis that he opened the door and I stuck my foot in it and said this is what we can do,” Jackson said.
Jackson added that he’s “not losing sleep” over Anthony opting out this summer but that he’s “definitely concerned” about Anthony entering free agency because “it only takes one bidder out there that has the ability and can ruin your hopes and chances.”
It remains a long shot that the Bulls would acquire Anthony via outright salary cap space, even if they use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer. A sign-and-trade scenario would allow Anthony to recoup more of what he would leave behind with the Knicks, who can re-sign him for five years and $129 million.
On the Knicks coaching front, Jackson said Steve Kerr, who played for him with the Bulls, had agreed to lead the Knicks before he accepted the Warriors job on May 20. Jackson said he told Kerr he had to do what he thought was right for himself.
Twitter @kcjhoopCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun