For a while, it seemed like New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony was indifferent to the idea of Phil Jackson joining the club's front office. But in the last couple days, he's appeared more enthusiastic about the team's new president.
After calling Jackson's arrival a "power move" over the weekend, he talked Monday about the Zen Master's clout to attract free agents:
With 13 NBA championship rings in tow, including two as a player with New York, Jackson brings a ton of basketball-related credibility. That won't automatically translate to front office success, however, considering the current dysfunctional state of the Knicks organization.
Nevertheless, 'Melo and others believe Phil has the reputation and people skills to turn things around, especially after the Knicks free up a truckload of salary-cap space in 2015.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News talked about Jackson's influence in the basketball world and how he could become a major factor in the recruitment of big free agents:
An NBA source says that a big part of the Knicks’ thinking behind pursuing Jackson is to recruit free agents to New York...Nearly four years after the Knicks’ recruiting pitch to LeBron James came up woefully short, Garden chairman James Dolan is counting on Jackson to become the organization’s closer...they believe his championship pedigree will give the club a greater chance of landing some big names once they clear significant salary-cap space after next season.
New York hopes Jackson can do much better in 2015 than the Knicks' front office did in 2010 when they were only able to land Amar'e Stoudemire in a summer littered with better free agents.
Prior to the finalization of Jackson's deal, 'Melo told reporters that Phil's arrival wouldn't likely have an impact on his impending free agency (he can opt out of his 2014-15 year this summer). It's reasonable to believe his feelings have changed:
Let's face it: Anthony has been surrounded by mediocrity for most of his three seasons in the Big Apple, and that's not exactly what he envisioned when he forced his way out of Denver.
He wanted to be the alpha dog in a big market, sure. But he also wanted some other competent running mates and better odds of winning a title.
Phil's presence in the organization doesn't guarantee much of anything at this point, but 'Melo is hoping Jackson's cache will lead to happier times at the Garden.
Dan O'Brien covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter: @DanielO_BR