Anthony’s lever­age hand­cuffs the Knicks

The Washington Post Sunday - - WASHINGTONPOST.COM/SPORTS - ON THE NBA BY TIM BONTEMPS tim.bontemps@wash­post.com Ex­cerpted from wash­ing­ton­post.com/sports/nba

For a time, Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jack­son tried to play nice.

In the wake of a re­cent ar­ti­cle by Jack­son’s long­time con­fi­dant Charley Rosen, the nine-time al­ls­tar and the 11-time cham­pion coach-turned pres­i­dent of the New York Knicks tried to break bread and put their dif­fer­ences be­hind them — or, at least, put a pos­i­tive pub­lic face on them. It didn’t work. Over the past few days, what was al­ready sus­pected has be­come ex­ceed­ingly ob­vi­ous: Jack­son is done with Anthony and wants to move the su­per­star for­ward out of town be­tween now and the Feb. 23 trade dead­line.

The irony is that as badly as Jack­son wants to move on from Anthony, Jack­son is also the rea­son Anthony re­mains a Knick. The Knicks pres­i­dent has made sev­eral poor de­ci­sions since tak­ing over the fran­chise with which he won two cham­pi­onships as a player in the 1970s, but one cru­cial mis­step will likely de­cide the big­gest move he will make since he re­turned to New York: When Jack­son re­signed Anthony in July of 2014, he gave him a no-trade clause.

By giv­ing Anthony that clause — at a time when the Knicks were of­fer­ing him the most money of any team by far and it was clear he was go­ing to return af­ter re­cruit­ing vis­its with sev­eral other teams — Jack­son handed over all lever­age in fu­ture ne­go­ti­a­tions. He is now learn­ing the hard way just how lit­tle power he has be­cause of that choice.

Be­cause Anthony has fi­nal say over his next des­ti­na­tion, in­clud­ing re­main­ing in New York if he so chooses, Jack­son’s hands are tied. That’s why the two teams with which the Knicks have been linked thus far, the Cleve­land Cava­liers and Los An­ge­les Clip­pers, are likely the only ones that will have any re­al­is­tic trade dis­cus­sions be­tween now and next month’s dead­line.

The pres­ence of LeBron James in Cleve­land and Chris Paul in Los An­ge­les — two of Anthony’s three pals from the in­fa­mous “Ba­nana Boat” pic­ture a cou­ple of sum­mers ago (the other, Dwyane Wade, has his own headaches to deal with in Chicago) — means there is at least a chance that Anthony would con­sider join­ing ei­ther team.

Cleve­land could of­fer the best prize in return: Kevin Love, an all-star power for­ward who would be an ex­cel­lent long-term fit next to bud­ding young star Kristaps Porzingis in New York. To get Love, though, New York would prob­a­bly have to sweeten the pot; with Cleve­land al­ready well into the luxury tax, that might mean tak­ing on some dead-weight salaries.

Wher­ever Anthony ends up, though, Jack­son’s choice in 2014 means the sit­u­a­tion will only be re­solved as his star sees fit.

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