Carmelo Anthony thought Phil Jackson wanted him off the Knicks so badly that, “he was willing to trade me for a bag of chips.”
Instead, Anthony outlasted Jackson in New York. But the relationship with the Knicks had deteriorated to the point of no return for the All-Star.
“When I signed back with the Knicks, I wanted to be in New York and I believed in Phil,” Anthony told the New York Times. “Then last year it went to: I was being pushed out. There were things being said about me that I didn’t know where they were coming from. And I still had to go in that gym and play and practice and deal with the media, answer all those questions every day.
“There was no support from the organization. When you feel like you’re on your own and then on top you feel like you’re being pushed out.”
Anthony’s partnership with the Knicks became toxic last season, to the point that both sides desperately wanted a separation. It was a nasty divorce but Anthony said he holds “no grudge” against his former franchise. That’s partly because he landed on a borderline title contender with the Thunder, which coincidentally hosts the Knicks in the season opener Thursday.
Anthony said his son, Kiyan, actually pushed the Thunder as a destination.
“He wanted me to play for OKC,” Anthony said. “Even before OKC was in the picture.”
Anthony’s preference was to play in Houston with buddy Chris Paul, and his impression was Jackson ready to accommodate a trade for Ryan Anderson. But after Jackson was fired and team president Steve Mills took over, “They went from asking for peanuts to asking for steak.”
Steak is a strong word. The Knicks took back Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second-round pick for Anthony, who had mentally left New York and the losing that accompanied it.
“I think at that point it was too far gone,” Anthony said. “I already had it in my mind that I wanted to win, that I wanted to move on. We didn’t think it would take as long as it did, but my mind was already made up.”
Jeff Hornacek also wants to put the partnership in the past.
“I think there’s a lot that went on last year that affected us. But however he feels, you have to get that from him,” Hornacek said. “We’re just moving on with the guys we have and we’ll get this thing going.”