On Pro Basketball: Would You Vote Carmelo Off the Island? Or Phil?
You, the long-suffering Knicks fan, applauded the team’s acquisition of Carmelo Anthony in 2011. You rejoiced over the reset Dolan orchestrated three years later when he landed 11 Rings Jackson to clean up the mess, to change the culture.
Now you have pretty much had it with Melo the Martyr and Invisi-Phil. You would probably vote to move on from both, but Dolan was making it clear that he was ready to jettison only one.
This poll, not rigged, would help him determine who goes.
You said, “You realize that Melo has a no-trade clause in his contract, don’t you?”
“I’ve heard about it,” Dolan said. “But wouldn’t he want to go if Phil just came out and admitted that he was moving his lips when Charley Rosen was writing his column ripping Carmelo?”
You said, “Phil’s not going to admit that.”
“Because, Mr. D., Phil’s the one who not only decided to re-sign Melo but also gave him the no-trade clause. If Phil publicly says he wants Melo out, he’s also acknowledging that he got the most important decision of his presidency wrong and compounded it by making it that much harder to undo.”
You could hear Dolan sigh, and you wondered if that was a concession that he was the one who ordered Phil to re-sign Melo with the no-trade in the first place.
Whatever, you thought. It is what it is.
You said: “So Phil finally meets with Melo on Tuesday and there are multiple reports that Phil asked him if he wanted to stay when it should have been Melo demanding to know if Phil still wants him around. Because it’s become pretty obvious that Phil thinks Melo’s isolation instincts subvert his better intentions as a player; his habit of losing his man on the perimeter is a drain on any defense; and his 32-year-old legs aren’t holding up in the fourth quarter and especially when the Knicks play on consecutive nights.
“And yeah, Phil — I mean, Rosen — wasn’t wrong about all that, or about Melo’s so-called leadership skills.”
“O.K.,” Dolan said. “So I’ll just order Phil to tell Melo we want him out and then we can get some high draft picks, a young player or two and build around K.P.”
“Not that simple,” you said.
“Why not?” Dolan said. “Boston got, like, 15 first-rounders from the Nets for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and they were already 74 years old.”
You said: “Billy King’s not working in the league anymore and at least Pierce and Garnett had championship credentials. A deal is possible, but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get anything close to commensurate quality when Melo is holding all the cards about where he goes.”
“But can’t we make life miserable for him the way we did with Marbury?” Dolan said.
You said: “Melo is not Marbury. Until K.P. can bring it every night, Melo is still your best player. He is very smart with the media — by saying he gets blamed for every loss, he deflects the blame that he actually deserves. Enough people think he plays hurt and without much support. He also loves being a celebrity in New York and figures he can chase a title elsewhere as a cheaper, more subordinate, player when his contract is up in 2019.”
Dolan said: “So I keep Melo and fire Phil? Now we have to start all over again with a new regime, and what’s the upside there?”
You said: “Well, until this season, I was still willing to give Phil the benefit of the doubt, mainly because he drafted K.P. I was willing to overlook the questionable trades and the Derek Fisher fiasco. But the inane comments on Twitter, the nonsense about LeBron’s posse, going after Melo when the team was playing well and making poor Jeff Hornacek clean that up and the Derrick Rose mess, too, it’s all so dysfunctional.”
Dolan said, “But he swears to me we can still make the playoffs if they’ll just execute the triangle.”
You said: “Hornacek doesn’t want to coach it. The players don’t want to play it, and how many free agents will even consider coming here with all this weirdness, with Phil bigfooting his coach and taking ill-timed shots at people in Rosen’s column and elsewhere? Phil was supposed to attract talent with all his rings, not repel it. He was supposed to be the antidote to you, Mr. D., no offense.”
Well, maybe some offense, you thought.
You said: “The point is, Phil’s eccentric behavior is giving the Garden an even crazier reputation than it already had. In the grand scheme, that’s worse than any of Melo’s nightly transgressions.”
“So you’re voting thumbs-down on Phil,” Dolan said.
“I guess I am,” you said. “But couldn’t his successor also take a shot at persuading Melo to waive the no-trade?”
Dolan sighed. Whatever, you thought. It is what it is.
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