Column: Phil Jackson taking risky approach assuming Melo will take less than max money

Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter

Phil Jackson is making $12 million a year — $60 million over five years — to turn the Knicks around and bring them back to prominence.

Yet he appears to be employing a risky strategy by assuming that Carmelo Anthony will stay true to his word and take less than max money to help the franchise compete for its first NBA title in more than 40 years.

“The way things have been structured now financially for teams is that it’s really hard to have one or two top stars or max players and to put together a team with enough talent you’ve got to have people making sacrifices financially so we hope that Carmelo is true to his word and we understand what it’s going to take and we will present that to him at that time,” Jackson said Wednesday when meeting with the media.

Remember, it was Melo who first brought up the idea of potentially taking less money in New York if it would help the Knicks win.

USATSI_7814005_110579513_lowres“Without a doubt,” Anthony told reporters in New Orleans for All-Star Weekend in February. “Any opportunity I have to build that up in New York, I’d do it. I told people all the time, always say, ‘If it takes me taking a pay cut, I’ll be the first one on [Knicks owner] Mr. [James] Dolan’s steps saying take my money and let’s build something strong over here.'”

That was Melo saying the right thing, knowing that he can make the most money from the Knicks in free agency — $129 million over five years as opposed to $96 million over four with another outfit once he opts out July 1.

But is Jackson going too strong by essentially assuming Melo will take less money?

When I asked if he plans to speak with Melo about it, Jackson said, “Yeah, sure.”

Jackson elaborated that a “precedent’ has been set around the NBA by elite players taking less money in order to achieve the greater good.

“There are some obvious examples that are out there that everybody can point to,” Jackson said. “Tim Duncan making the salary he’s making after being part of a dynasty — not a dynasty, I wouldn’t call San Antonio a dynasty — a force, a great force. They haven’t been able to win consecutive championships but they’ve always been there. San Antonio has had a wonderful run through Tim’s tenure there as a player. He’s agreed to take a salary cut so other players can play with him so they can be this good. And that’s the beginning of team play. The group down in Miami agreed to take less money to play together so that’s, I think, a precedent that’s been set.”

You have to wonder what Melo thinks about all this.

Will he agree with Jackson’s assessment, or will he be annoyed/upset that Phil now assumes he will take less money?

It’s no secret that the Chicago Bulls, who desperately lack a go-to scorer, are targeting Anthony either via a sign-and-trade or in free agency.

The Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers are also seen as potential landing spots for Anthony, who has said that his top priority going forward is to compete for a championship.

Melo may just figure that if he’s being asked to take less money in New York, he might as well go ahead and take less money elsewhere.

In Chicago, Houston or L.A.

And if that happens, Jackson seems OK with it, too.

While Jackson has 13 total NBA titles as a coach and a player, Melo has zero.

None.

Nada.

The new Knicks President will have $52 million in cap space in 2015 when the contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler come off the books.

Jackson may just figure that it’s easier — and better — to go after two max free agents then (Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo anyone?) than to try to build around Melo.

Listen closely to Jackson as he sings the praises of the Triangle and it doesn’t exactly sound like Melo fits into the Zen Master’s ideal concept of a fully functioning basketball team.

Carmelo Anthony“I like to see full involvment of players in an offensive format,” Jackson said of the Triangle. “As much as I think that there’s been a big change in the game with a lot of screen-and-rolls and guys standing out in the corner shooting 3’s, it’s not the way I like to see basketbal played. I like to see all the players involved in playmaking skills and operating in the offense itself with ball movement and player movement that’s done with a purpose and a lot of times we were a little bit more stagnant than that right now.”

Let that sink in for a minute.

Does Iso-Melo look like a team where “all the players [are] involved in playmaking skills and operating in the offense itself”?

If you said yes, I have a bridge to sell you that runs between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

In fact, they often look like the complete opposite of that description.

Jackson probably figures he can get Melo to succeed within the confines of Triangle under the new coach — potentially Steve Kerr — but that’s a lot of assumptions.

He seems to be figuring both that A) Melo will take less money; and B) that Melo will then succeed in the Triangle.

But he’s also prepared for life without Melo going forward.

“I’m all about moving forward,” Jackson said. “Just deal with what is and move forward. If [keeping Melo] is in the cards, man are we fortunate. If it’s not in the cards, man are we fortunate. We’re going forward anyway.”

Melo, the ball is in your court.


Adam Zagoria covers the New York Knicks and Big East hoops for NBA.com and SNY.tv. He also appears as a Big East Basketball Insider on SNY and 1050 ESPN Radio. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog.




578 comments
Stanley Bostitch
Stanley Bostitch

Thank you Phil Jackson. I hope that Dolan stays out of this and lets Phil make the Knicks into a dynasty.

icyrebel
icyrebel

sounds like jax is showing him the door...

Seth Nadler
Seth Nadler

Another point on this pay cut, Whether Melo takes Max this year or not, it won't have any effect on the 2014 cap situation.  It would only impact the 2015 cap space

SheSaidSpikeWho
SheSaidSpikeWho

I love how people act like Phil Jackson making 12 million has anything to do with Carmelo taking a pay cut. As if Phil's salary has an effect on how much the Knicks will be able to offer free agents. If there were no salary cap then Melo wouldn't be asked to take a pay cut. OMG the audacity of Phil to ask Melo to take less when he's making $12 mill/year. You're damn right he's asking him to take less because he'd like to be able to build a team. Sh!t, they should've given Phil $13 mill....one for each ring smdh. 

Seth Nadler
Seth Nadler

Just don't know why some people just aren't getting it, if Melo leaves then Phil has a clean slate to work and puts his own roster together, if Melo stays then Phil will build a roster around Melo.  However Phil is in charge and won't let Melo hold them hostage, Melo said he'd take less money, so Phil is a brilliant man, he tell's Melo, to literally put his money where his mouth is, If Melo does leave then Melo was lying,and Phil made the right choice because Melo didn't want to stay in NY..

Knicks_Fanatic
Knicks_Fanatic

What will do Dolan if CAA calls him and says Phil is lowballing Melo and he will sign elsewhere unless the offer is raised.

MeloStat301
MeloStat301

Those thinking Phil will offer Melo a contract of 10,11,12 mil per year, obviously don't know about the players association and are "delusional" LOL.  I'd say Phil starts at 15,16 and go from there.

knickster
knickster

Phil Jackson's statements yesterday are truly masterful.


By letting the entire world know he is NOT willing to offer Melo anything close to a max-salary contract, he is drastically reducing Melo's options (should he opt out) in the marketplace.


Phil Jackson started the negotiations yesterday!

Knicks_Fanatic
Knicks_Fanatic

Just wondering if Melo could opt in for next season at $23.3 million and then purchase an insurance policy against a career threatening injury.

knickster
knickster

That's exactly it.

Another way of understanding Jackson's thinking is this: he knows he can't really assemble a contender with Melo gobbling up 30% of the cap, so he would rather take his chances with other players - but he would love to have Melo under the right conditions (drastic pay cut).

It's easy to see...

MeloStat301
MeloStat301

@Seth Nadler Melo might be just as brilliant...he said he'd take a paycut, but didn't specify how much LOL.  He can always make it seem as if Jax is low-balling him...but I doubt it.  Phil will present a reasonable offer....if its reasonable...and Melo rejects it..and leaves Ny, then he'd be lying.

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@Seth Nadler Yep, That's a great pt!  Phil is playing the game because he thinks he can with Melo.  If Melo was the one player Phil thought he had to have, no way would Phil be playing this risky game!   This is about priming the PR pump for whatever is about to take place!

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@MeloStat301 LOL Phil is running Melo out of here without saying much of a word so far!  Melo offered to take less (whatever that meant) and Phil countered that he will approach him with a figure when the time comes! 

Don't sound like he's in much of a rush to find out what will please Melo.

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

Ok I see the cap holds now but what will the final cap # be in 2014/2015?

BiggieTKB
BiggieTKB

@Knicks_Fanatic  NCAA Football players buy that coverage .,. but they get like  5 million of coverage for around 40K.


has to be career ENDING injury to collect

BiggieTKB
BiggieTKB

@Knicks_Fanatic  Lloyds of London would write the policy.. probably cost him a couple mil for 100 mil of coverage.  it would have to be catastrophic injury though not market risk


i doubt it would be cheap given the level of risk..

MeloStat301
MeloStat301

It will be a reasonable offer...you like to bring up Tim Duncan when Phil mentioned it yesterday...but Phil was not comparing salaries, he was comparing the sacrifice.  In the same breath he also mentioned Lebron,Wade and Bosh as another example, while each took only 2 mil less to play together.  Look for a reasonable offer from Phil...not a low ball offer like you claim.

knickster
knickster

I agree with you. Phil is smart and he knows Melo is not the type of player you build around, specially entering the last legs of his career. Too many holes in Melo's game: he is not a good defender, he can't jump anymore (he is getting frequent rejections at the basket these days), he can't run on fast breaks like Durant and he is not a team-oriented player in general. Phil will NOT put all his eggs in Carmelo's basket - that's for sure...

MeloStat301
MeloStat301

@xmenreturn @Seth Nadler This isn't a game LOL...Melo is the one who said he will take the paycut...what game??  LOL.

MeloStat301
MeloStat301

@xmenreturn @MeloStat301 Actually he is, because they have "talked" about it already.  Funny how you omit what Phil said in his complete statement.


"I'd like to convince him," Jackson said. "I'd like to appeal to his better nature: winning. And I think that's what we want to do."


Has Phil talked to Melo yet??  LOL.  your funny.

knickster
knickster

@thatsagoodpoint @knickster It all comes down to how sincere Melo is about his desire to win. He can go to a number of winning situations (Houston, Chicago, Portland, Phoenix, etc.) if he is willing to do what Ginobli,  Parker, Duncan, LeBron, etc. did: take significantly less money in order to give the team a chance to win.


If Melo wants top money and a chance to win at the same time, his options are near ZERO. That's reality.

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@thatsagoodpoint @knicksterThen he gives up another year without being able to compete for a ring just for the money for 1 year!  

That should tell ya a lot about Melo.  It sure wouldn't be about winning a ring!

Knicks_Fanatic
Knicks_Fanatic

@BiggieTKB  

CP3 did opt in and give the Clippers a year to convince him to stay. So that's not out of the realm of possibility. Plus, Melo's options will be better in 2015.

RivDim
RivDim

@Xkids It's hilarious that you actually think for one second that you understand any concept that others don't or haven't caught on to. And if you actually believe that Phil Jackson and Carmelo haven't talked about this before the presser you really need to reconsider just how slow or clueless you are to what goes on in the real world.

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@kingofny LMAO!  You penalized LBJ for taking a no-star lineup to the NBA Finals but you let Melo off the hook for having ring winners who were key players on his Denver and NY team and they never made the Finals! 

Dude, LBJ was smart to team up with someone that he thought could help him. 

Once again your boy Melo comes up short!

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@kingofny LOL He played with a team of bustas and got to the NBA Finals. 

See there goes that fatal attraction! 



xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@kingofny Kinda projecting there!  You kill STATues, LBJ and any other player and you defend Melo to the last drop!

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@kingofny LOL  I betcha got a Melo Fathead right over your twin bunkbed!

You better not wake your momma up passing the ball in the house.

MeloStat301
MeloStat301

@xmenreturn Different CBA...kobe could have got a max extension from the lakers, but declined to do so...

MeloStat301
MeloStat301

@xmenreturn Right....I'm sure Kobe was happy that Phil wanted him traded and out of town LOL.

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@kingofnyWhat is the pay cut Melo is talking about?  

You don't think ANYBODY that thinks a particular player are central to their plan knowing they can opt out, would not want to know right away what they are dealing with to keep that player or at the very least get from that player what they may want?

That's not something you want to put off because it affects your entire plan you may be trying to put in place.  

Unless he is not that central to your plan - meaning for him to stay!

YIKES!

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@kingofny Dude he never treated them like that about money!  Sure he wasn't the GM then but those guys got their dough period. 

Phil would have tore down the place if the FO let those guys go.  Phil stated letting Shaq go was a big mistake.

Right you believe Phil wanted MWP or Kobe? hahahahahaahahahahahaha

Can ya dance a little in your braced shoes with the your jokes! 

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@kingofny Hey lil dummy, Phil can let Melo know the figure he wants him to take ANYTIME he desires!  

If Melo is so central to Phil, wouldn't he want to know what Melo is thinking now or what the parameters Melo is looking to have in order to keep him?

It's amazing how stupid you are!  Stay away from the Corporate world.

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@MeloStat301 B.S>. He sure didn't treat MJ, Pippen Kobe or Shaq like that! 

You can use that line they haven't spoke forever.   When I stated it, they hadn't spoke! lol

MeloStat301
MeloStat301

@xmenreturn @MeloStat301 That's how Phil treats everybody...he's Phill Jackson...even if it was Lebron you think Phil is gonna bow to him?  Nope...and that's how it should be....did you just start watching the NBA?  lol.


Uhm...yeah...according to you they still haven't spoke so LOL.

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@MeloStat301 Dude, I never stated they would NEVER talk.  What was decided in the encounter they had? 

Melo supposedly stated he would take less (but no one knows what that means not even Phil)

Phil says he will take him up on that and let him know what that figure should be at some later pt. 

That's how you treat the most important player you plan to build around! 

hahahahahahahahahahaha  


knickster
knickster

@xmenreturn @knickster I agree. The Bulls possibility is very interesting and will test Melo's willingness (and sincerity) to sacrifice in order to contend for a ring.

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@knickster lol  If the Bulls can get Melo a decent salary for next year and be able to sign him for a big amount in 2015+, Melo is gone! 

I can't believe he would waste another year in his prime playing for a rookie coach without any help.   

I sure wouldn't!  I would see that Phil is not that in to me already! 

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@knickster A to the Men!  We're gonna find out a lot about Phil in his new role and Melo true ring desires! 

brookdon
brookdon

If it was about being wined and dined he wouldn't have talked about taking less. He would have simply tested free agency. You're now just putting words in his mouth.