During his introductory press conference on Tuesday, where it was officially announced he would be serving as Knicks president, Jackson optimistically addressed Anthony's future in New York, per Newsday's Al Iannazzone:
Phil on Melo: "I have no problem committing in saying Carmelo is in the future plans."— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) March 18, 2014
Some were wondering if Jackson would elect to dismantle the Knicks and restructure the roster from top to bottom. With Anthony set to explore free agency this summer, New York can easily remove him from the picture by letting him walk.
But that doesn't appear to be the plan, nor was it ever going to be.
Before Jackson accepted owner James Dolan's offer, a source told The Knicks Blog's Adam Zagoria the Zen Master wanted assurances of Anthony's return.
Nothing Jackson said on Tuesday contradicted that report. Per CBS Sports' Ken Berger, Jackson even believes Anthony isn't done evolving:
Phil endorses Carmelo Anthony as part of the plan. "There's another level he can get to."— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) March 18, 2014
Now that Jackson's feelings about Anthony are settled, though, the real task at hand begins: actually keeping the superstar.
Although he has repeatedly waxed loyalty, he has been noncommittal with regard to future plans, never once promising to remain in New York. Plenty of people even believe he has one foot out the door.
Among the skeptics is ESPN's Stephen A. Smith. Speaking on First Take, he indicated that he was told Anthony plans on leaving:
I was told this last week, I was told this a few days ago, I had it reiterated to me by somebody I trust implicitly yet again this morning, that Carmelo Anthony is gone. He is leaving New York City. There are those like myself who still hold up the possibility that that may not be true (...) but from what I'm being told, he is gone. And he's gone because he is of the mindset that in order to achieve any modicum of success he would have to sacrifice not just this year but next year as well.
Not even weeks into his Knicks tenure, Jackson has his work cut out for him.
The team won't have space until 2015 and remains barren of movable assets, so he'll have to construct a creative sales pitch if he truly wishes to retain Anthony.
Will Carmelo Anthony re-sign with Knicks?
"If Phil wants to come in and change that this late in my career, if it’s going to help me out to win a championship, I’m with it," Anthony said of changing his style for Jackson, via the New York Daily News' Peter Botte.
Will he still be with Jackson and the Knicks come July?
There's a very real chance that Anthony will leave if he doesn't see a title in New York's imminent future. He wants to win.
Then again, Jackson wants Anthony. And we all know what typically happens when Jackson wants something.
*Salary information via ShamSports.