INDIANAPOLIS — Another Knicks’ season came to a close Tuesday night and now Carmelo Anthony is ready to be an impact player off the court.
Anthony said he looks at the free-agent list every day and made it clear that he wants input in what players the Knicks pursue this offseason.
“If I’m going to be a part of this organization and the future of this organization, then I want to be a part of the decision-making in some way shape or form,” Anthony said.
The Knicks, without Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, lost their 50th game, falling, 102-90, to the Pacers in their finale at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Knicks ended the second full year under team president Phil Jackson 32-50. After a 22-22 start, they finished 10-28.
That has Anthony, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, looking forward to Thursday’s exit meeting with Jackson. Anthony wants answers on how Jackson will turn the Knicks into a playoff team after three straight years of missing out.
“Just an understanding of kind of a plan, a plan of action of what they’re trying to do, what we’re trying to do, what we’re trying to accomplish here,” Anthony said. “I think everybody knows my questions that I have. So it’s just a matter of them kind of being transparent with me.
“We’ll have an open dialogue, an open conversation, about how we all can get better at this situation moving forward, what I can do to kind of help and kind of fill the holes that we need to fill at this point.”
Whether it was interim coach Kurt Rambis’ last game on the bench remains to be seen. But he continues to speak like someone who will be with the organization in some capacity, if not as head coach.
Rambis discussed the Knicks’ “summer project” for developing players and said they will pursue guys who are triangle friendly.
“The decision with management is to get the players that fit into the system,” Rambis said. “I think the whole process has been to get the players that we feel will fit into this system.
“We just want guys who have versatility, guys who have great character, guys that have tremendous work ethics. They’re just internally driven. The versatility always helps, and that they have a mindset that they want to play as a group, as a team.”
Rambis went 9-19 after replacing Derek Fisher. Jackson reportedly wants to keep Rambis, who is “uncertain” if he will be part of the exit meetings.
Jackson and Rambis are close friends, and share similar visions on basketball and players. But there are many other candidates available, including Tom Thibodeau, Jeff Van Gundy, Scott Brooks and David Blatt.
They all own better career coaching records than Rambis. But if Jackson is set on running the triangle he likely will pick someone within his circle of trust. Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton is a possibility, but he may not want to leave Golden State. Brian Shaw has been mentioned as a candidate also.
Jackson has said he wants a coach that plays a system, and that he’s not married to the triangle. In February, however, Jackson fired Fisher, who tried to tweak the offense.
Blatt could be on the Knicks’ radar since he runs the Princeton offense, which emphasizes using screens and cuts, reading and reacting to the defense. Blatt also was teammates with Knicks general manager Steve Mills at the Ivy League school.
What happens could depend on Jackson’s plan. There has been speculation that Jackson may not stick around for all five years of his deal. If so, allowing Jackson total say in who’s the Knicks’ next coach may not be prudent.
Jackson was asked last month if he planned to stay for the length of his contract. He ended his answer with “I’m in it to win it.” Rambis said recently he hasn’t gotten any indication that Jackson won’t fulfill his contract.
If things remain status quo, Anthony has no problem with the Knicks chasing players who fit the triangle.
“I think we should go and get the players that can be a part of this system,” Anthony said. “I think all good players can adapt to whatever system it is out there. If you’re a ballplayer you’re a ballplayer.”