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George Karl: ‘I don’t think Melo is a Phil Jackson type of player’

Mar 11, 2014, 8:13 PM EDT

george karl Getty Images

As the reports continue to roll in indicating that Phil Jackson will at some point soon accept a prominent position within the Knicks front office, his first order of business will be deciding what to do with Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony, as you may have heard, can (and likely will) opt out of the final year of his contract this summer to become an unrestricted free agent. It doesn’t mean that leaving New York is his intention, and in fact, he can sign a longer deal to stay on a max contract than he can anywhere else.

But while Anthony is one of the league’s elite scorers and is certainly a star capable of being the face of the franchise, the Knicks have a real decision to make regarding whether or not to re-sign him — one that will fall squarely  on Jackson’s shoulders. And Anthony’s former head coach in Denver, George Karl, doesn’t see the two as necessarily being a match.

From Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York:

ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd asked Karl if the Knicks keep Anthony while discussing Jackson potentially taking over the Knicks.

“To me, when you ask me that question, I don’t think Melo is a Phil Jackson type of player,” Karl said on “The Herd.” “That would be my answer to that.”

Karl, who coached Anthony from 2005-11, says Anthony is just one of many major decisions Jackson would have to make if he joins the Knicks.

Karl’s comments are interesting here, but they don’t come as much of a surprise.

The reality is that no one knows what a Phil Jackson type of player is in terms of his vision from the front office, which is likely very different from the one he might have if he were once again patrolling the sidelines.

It could have been a dig at Jackson for only winning titles with some the game’s greatest all-time players on his rosters, or it could have similarly been a shot at Anthony in trying to say that he isn’t at that level of being able to carry a team all by himself.

Both are valid points, but it’s a pretty veiled reference to be able to take too much out of it. What we do know is that Jackson will have a decision to make where Anthony is concerned if in fact he finalizes an agreement to join the Knicks, so we’ll find out exactly the type of player he prefers soon enough.

  1. sportsfan18 - Mar 11, 2014 at 8:28 PM

    That’s because Melo is NOT a championship player…

    Phil has 13 rings…

    Melo can’t count to 13…

    • jusdre313 - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:05 AM

      im sure he can count all the millions hes earned since playing..

      • kanemoney - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:53 AM

        +1 for the comeback

      • sportsfan18 - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:57 AM

        Uh, La La is the one counting his, er HER money in that household folks…

  2. antistratfordian - Mar 11, 2014 at 8:38 PM

    Heh. Does George Karl realize that Jackson once said he would choose Dwight Howard over LeBron if he had to choose a player to build around? So what is a Jackson type of player if Dwight Howard is one?

    • bhunter1995 - Mar 11, 2014 at 11:38 PM

      I’m not familiar with that quote (I’m not saying your wrong I just never heard it) but that was probably before LBJ won two rings and during a time in D12s career where Dwight was considered to be an absolute monster. While I don’t think D12 has ever been better then LBJ, the quote when viewed in the context of the time isn’t that bad of an assessment.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 13, 2014 at 6:22 PM

        Uh… that’s a poor assessment at any time.

    • mogogo1 - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      That’s going to be the interesting part because being a genius as a coach doesn’t mean he’s going to be great at picking players, structuring deals, or any of the other key points an executive needs to do well. I’m the biggest Phil Jackson fan out there but his strengths have always been on the coaching side motivating guys and dealing with egos. And that’s not what an executive does.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 12, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        Phil Jackson’s basketball wisdom is all-encompassing. He’s already a better GM than the majority of those in the league.

        GMs still have to motivate guys and deal with egos, so Jackson can wield his influence there like Pat Riley does in Miami. He also has something going for him that will make his job a lot easier – the same thing assists Pat Riley: rings and charisma.

        I have no hesitation or reluctance about Jackson’s ability to run a basketball team in any capacity.

  3. psung26 - Mar 11, 2014 at 8:50 PM

    Inferiority complex. Karl concerned Melo will win a chip with PJ at the helm when the two of them couldn’t get it done in Denver all those years.

    • azarkhan - Mar 11, 2014 at 9:38 PM


  4. thomaskouns - Mar 11, 2014 at 9:10 PM

    Of course he’s not a Phil player – Phil intimated as much on HBO Real Sports last year.

    CA plays lackadaisical D, doesn’t make players better around him, is a virtual Black Hole on offense and has been resistant to coaching that would raise his teams winning% his entire career.

    He’s a great ‘NBA marketing player’ but not a ‘championship caliber’ player.

  5. wowwowbad - Mar 11, 2014 at 9:13 PM

    Melo just doesn’t have that “winner” attitude in him, and he rarely contribute on defense, so Karl is pretty clearly right.

    • kinggw - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:06 AM

      What are you talking about? It’s not his fault he wasn’t on better teams. KG had a horrible playoff history prior to become a Celtic, did he lack a winning attitude?

      The days of one guy carrying his team to a ring are over. The best teammate he’s had in New York has been a broken down Stat. He’s never had a Westbrook or Wade caliber type player with him throughout his career. Yet somehow people act like he’s a perennial loser, even though he’s never missed the playoffs. Give me a break.

      • jusdre313 - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:16 AM

        exactly…. i say the same thing .. Melo doesnt play D, but they are ALOT of STAR players that dont. but no one is blaming the Knicks for not putting a winning roster one the team…

      • hoopsheadcentral - Mar 12, 2014 at 3:31 AM

        Do NOT say Melo NEVER had a Westbrook or Wade caliber type of teammate. He had All-Star Chauncey Billups for three seasons and they would’ve made it to the NBA Finals during his first year with the Nuggets, if it weren’t for the Lakers. And correct me if I’m wrong but a certain Allen Iverson played with him, too.

        He never really single-handedly carried the Nuggets during his time in Denver. He had help, too. He was never alone. Get your facts straight.

      • davidly - Mar 12, 2014 at 5:13 AM

        The days of one guy carrying his team to a ring are over.
        Those days never existed.

      • money2long - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:27 AM

        One player has gotten you pretty far. See Dwight and lebron in orl and cle. I don’t feel like digging back any further. Womp

      • bknowledge - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:29 AM

        Dirk won the championship with a starting 5 of Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion, Deshaun Stevenson, Jason Kidd.
        One guy can’t carry a team to a championship, but teams don’t neccessarily need more than 1 great scorer.

    • campcouch - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:25 AM

      same said of LeBron James. then he hooked up with Bosh and Wade. Now everyone has forgotten his 7 years in Cleveland.

      • davidly - Mar 12, 2014 at 5:17 AM

        Maybe you’re right and people said LBJ rarely contributed on defense, but I’d have to disagree. James was phenomenal in Cleveland and — while I take issue with those who described his supporting cast as scrubs — he may have been the closest description of “carrying a team” the league has ever seen.

        At any rate, I haven’t forgotten Cleveland, and actually believe he could have eventually won a title there.

  6. ghelton03 - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:00 AM

    Jackson signing with Knicks is only a good move if it helps to resign Melo. It doesn’t appear that PJ will help sign Melo and in fact it may hurt the chances.

    If Melo leaves and you have a half-hearted Jackson in the role of coach and GM, or just GM, the Knicks are screwed and Jackson will be gone as soon as Dolan can figure out how to make it happen and save face.

  7. kanemoney - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:56 AM

    I actually disagree. Melo’s game has a lot of parallels to Kobe. I think Melo would work well in the triangle, provided he commits to defense.

    And for all the Melo bashing, the dude has taken his team to the playoffs every year he has been in the league, right? It looks like the streak ends this year, but I don’t blame him. He has never been on a championship caliper team. While basketball is the most impacted by individual talent, it’s still a team sport.

    • antistratfordian - Mar 12, 2014 at 4:57 AM

      Melo is not a gym rat like Kobe. Their games are somewhat similar sometimes but their preparation and focus is completely different – I think the latter part is what Karl was referring to when he said that.

      • money2long - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:28 AM

        Hard to compare anyone’s drive to Kobe’s. Kobe’s work ethic is almost spooky. Lebron learned a lot from Kobe during their Olympic run together

      • antistratfordian - Mar 12, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        Kobe’s drive involves a lot of wasted energy though. Yes, he gets up at 3am and he’s in the gym a ton – but he doesn’t improve his game. He could learn a few things from LeBron in that regard. Look what KD turned into after studying under The King.

        And LeBron learned mostly from Jason Kidd in 2008 – whose side he never left. But I’m sure he picked up a few things from Kobe and everyone else.

      • money2long - Mar 12, 2014 at 6:38 PM

        considering lebron came in the league with all the tools and being the first overall pick, and kobe wasnt top ten, had to fight for his place in the game and will eventually become a hall of famer , i think u need to seriously rethink your proclamation that kobe doesnt improve his game.

        so sad. you are so sad.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 12, 2014 at 6:48 PM

        Well he doesn’t. He’s been the same player since 2001. Sorry to inform you of the bad news.

      • money2long - Mar 12, 2014 at 6:55 PM

        you can go ahead and think so. we all observe basketball differently. you seem him as the same. no need to say anything further from my end. i said what i had to say. im just happy you have no power to vote for people into the hall of fame. it’d be a very weird place.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 12, 2014 at 6:59 PM

        I didn’t say he wasn’t a hall of famer. You’re taking this all wrong, money. Don’t be sad.

      • money2long - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:38 PM

        Ok I won’t b sad anymore. Thanks. Ur awesome. Ur the best human being in the world. I didn’t say u were saying he wasn’t a hall of famer. Read English. I said u are not intelligent for think Kobe has not improved even from the time period u mentioned. Message me when lebron improves on some post moves. I liken his post game to Dwight’s. N that’s not saying much. It is how Kobe is able to average 27 at age 34. Let’s see how effective lebron is at that age.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:23 AM

        LeBron was more effective than 34 year old Kobe when he was a teenager.

      • money2long - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:53 AM

        Hehe. You’re adorable.

  8. davidly - Mar 12, 2014 at 4:55 AM

    I don’t think it’s a veiled reference at all. Why must journalists project their passive-aggressive tendencies onto those they report on? Just take it at face value; Karl didn’t want to go into details because he didn’t want to insult anyone.

    But if you look at the style of play, it’s pretty clear that Melo is Kobe squared, and we recall that Mister Zen called the latter uncoach-able in print for all to read.

    If Jackson were to camp in NYC, you can bet he’d get a team together that fed the post, whoever it is who’s getting fed.

    But as I keep saying in response to these reports: This ain’t happenin’.

  9. alexb1234 - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    George Karl is obviously still mad melo wanted out of Denver and killed any chance of Karl ever winning a ring. Get your salty behind out of here Karl.

    It’s amazing how so many people hate melo….why? The guy is a top 3 offensive player in the league and averaging 28 and 8 yet he is constantly trashed by guys in the media who have an agenda. Everybody always brings up his negatives and never his positives – It’s sad honestly – get a hobby.

    • money2long - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:29 AM

      Salty behind potato chips. Yum

      • caeser12 - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:57 AM

        Hey, Lay’s is looking for a new flavor.

    • granadafan - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      If just a few people bashed Melo, then you have a point that people “hate” Melo. However, the same observations are made over and over about him and by people who have watched/ played/ coached basketball for many years. At some point you have to remove your rose-colored glasses about and homer opinions of Melo and realize he’s not that good of a player. He doesn’t make others around him better, doesn’t pass, is not a leader, and doesn’t play defense. If the star isn’t playing defense then others on the team don’t try as hard either. There’s no question he can score, but that’s it. He’s a stats player and not a champion player.

      • alexb1234 - Mar 13, 2014 at 8:08 AM

        My point is that no player is perfect but the guy can score and he can rebound with the all time greats but instead of people appreciating that they keep trying to make him something he is not. He is a power forward and for some reason people care about how many assists he has – did anybody care about how many assists karl malone had? NO. “He’s not that good of a player”? You are looking through those hate colored glasses clearly you are one of those who no matter what he does you will hate on him and dwell on the negatives. You can say he’s a “stats player and not a championship player” but let me ask you another question. How many real stars has melo played with? NONE! Jordan had stars around him, Bird had stars around him, LeBron has stars around him, Duncan has stars around him, nobody wins wihtout stars around them that’s why only 8 or 9 different teams have won rings since 1980.
        When Melo actually had a team around him he won rounds in the playoffs. No star can win a ring by himself not even LeBron….but yeah that’s all Melo’s fault he is playing with a bunch of mid level players.

  10. dablakdrphil - Mar 12, 2014 at 7:17 PM

    In the end “if” Phil Jackson has accepted to join the Knicks front office all this will do should Carmelo leave is point the blame to PJ. Dolan knows Knicks fan and fans in general can’t stand him for s**t and I’m pretty sure he can’t stomach the negative criticism coming his way anymore (all well deserved). So by pointing the blame to someone else and taking the spotlight off him, I can easily see James Dolan doing that

    I hope I’m wrong but this is James Dolan were talking about

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