Carmelo Anthony didn’t make every concession that Phil Jackson wanted him to by opting re-sign with the New York Knicks this summer – a five-year, $124 million contract surely isn’t the discount the Zen Master originally had in mind, for instance. But Jackson insists the two respective faces of New York’s team came to a crucial understanding nonetheless, and it’s one that Anthony supposedly thought up all his own.
In a must-read interview with Steve Serby of the New York Post, Jackson says that the triangle offense implemented by he and Derek Fisher will prove a major boon for Carmelo’s game. Just as important, though, is that Jackson maintains the necessary aspect of that system – sharing and moving the ball – were brought up by Anthony all his own this summer as they discussed the Knicks’ future.
Q: How and why will the triangle offense make Carmelo a better player?
A: It’ll give him opportunity to be a passer, a rebounder, and probably easier spots to score from than he’s had before. I think. I hope that’s true for a lot of the players.
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…”
A: …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: 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.
Saying and doing are two different things, of course. But Anthony said all summer long that winning was his utmost priority, and one of the perceived reasons why he almost spurned New York was due to the superior talent on-hand in places like Chicago, Dallas, and Houston. Fewer shots and less time with the ball is a natural byproduct of playing alongside superior teammates, so Jackson’s claim that Carmelo really does want to share the scoring load going forward definitely holds water.
The issue for Anthony and the Knicks this season is that the players surrounding him don’t necessarily merit such a strategic shift. Amaré Stoudemire and J.R. Smith as New York’s best ancillary options won’t exactly inspire Carmelo to adopt the identity Jackson believes will be so beneficial to his game.
But the “equal opportunity” offense is about more than actually passing the ball. Movement in general is key in the Triangle, and the slimmed-down Anthony will have many chances to attack from the post or post-extended with three players stationed on the weak-side to draw attention away from him this season. Likewise, he’ll get more spot-up opportunities when Stoudemire is occupying the block, and will actually be in position to effectively cut without the ball in that scenario, too.
Which is all to say that even more than passing, movement and spacing are keys to the Triangle. Carmelo will likely sacrifice fewer shots this season than he will in coming ones, assuming Jackson makes good on his promise to add impactful talent to the Knicks this summer. But the unrelenting team-first mentality forged by the Triangle – if one player deviates, the entire possession is broken – will surely rub off on Anthony regardless.
When the time comes for Anthony to really embrace his role as a playmaker in Jackson’s famed offense, the trials and tribulations of this season will eventually be instrumental. For now, though, the Triangle will simply curb the shoot-first, ball-stopping tendencies that many correctly believe have limited Carmelo’s ceiling as a player. And if that proves the case, Jackson will definitely be right.
Will Carmelo reach new heights in the Triangle?
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