This was clearly the most trying season of Carmelo Anthony’s career even if Phil Jackson had never taken even one subtle dig at the Knicks’ best player.
The news on Monday via TMZ that Anthony and his wife, La La, have separated adds a slight wrinkle to what will be an interesting offseason for the Knicks. How Anthony’s personal life will impact his decision whether to waive his no-trade clause is unclear. Whatever personal issues Anthony is currently dealing with is a private matter for him and his family.
But just know that Carmelo has always said that his number one priority is his family’s well-being and as long as they are happy living in New York he has no intentions of leaving.
Anthony’s close bond with his only son, 10-year-old Kiyan, suggests that Anthony would have trouble moving if that meant even more time away from his son. As recently as late March, Kiyan traveled to the West Coast with the Knicks. A lasting image was Carmelo walking out of Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City last month with his arm around Kiyan, who for years has been a presence in the Knicks locker room after games.
It’s why Anthony and his long-time agent Leon Rose were wise to make sure that the Knicks included a no-trade clause in the contract extension Anthony signed three summers ago. Without it, Anthony would have been traded already. That was obvious from Jackson’s tone last Friday when he made it known that the Knicks and Anthony would be better off apart.
“We’ve not been able to win with him on the court at this time and the direction of our team is that he is a player that would be better somewhere else,” Jackson said.
Of course, Jackson didn’t mention that before the Zen Master arrived as team president, Anthony had led the Knicks to a 54-win season. Carmelo finished third in the MVP voting that year behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant. The only one who hasn’t done any winning in New York is Jackson, who has lost 166 games over three seasons.
Anthony, though, never sunk to Jackson’s level and attacked him in the press. It bothered him, absolutely. But for the most part Carmelo took the high road. It could not have been easy, dealing with a personal matter while having your boss randomly point out all of your flaws. It’s worth noting that when Jackson was going through his own very public break-up with his long-time girlfriend, Lakers president Jeanie Buss, he took time off from the Knicks. Anthony never did.
The coming weeks and months will test the resolve of both Anthony and Jackson. Anthony is well within his right to inform the Knicks that he has no intentions of waiving his no-trade clause with the understanding that Jackson and Garden Chairman James Dolan have the option, however unpleasant, to simply cut him.
The issue there is that the Knicks, besides not receiving an asset in return for their best player, would still have Anthony’s contract on the books.
If Anthony were amendable to a trade there wouldn’t appear to be many options. He owns a home in the Los Angeles area and perhaps the entire family would re-locate there. NBA cities that are relatively close to New York – Boston, Toronto, Washington and of course Cleveland – may appeal to Anthony.
There is no easy answer. Not for the Knicks and certainly not for Anthony, whose personal and professional life is now at a crossroads for all the world to see and analyze.
Give Anthony credit for keeping it all together this season, especially with the nonsense being thrown at him by his boss, whose constant digs look and sound even worse today.