We know how well Phil Jackson's Zen approach worked when it came to coaching. Now we'll get to see if it will help him be a salesman.
Selling a bright future, smart plan or whatever else you want to call it to Carmelo Anthony will be a tough early test for the New York Knicks' new president of basketball operations. And getting Anthony to take a deal that's worth slightly less than the star's market value makes things even harder.
Unless of course, New York's best player is familiar with gentleman's agreements. According to The Wall Street Journal's Chris Herring, "Anthony has said in recent months that he would be willing to take less than a maximum contract..."
While verbal agreements aren't official in terms of contracts for NBA players, Jackson is hoping to appeal to a code of honor and ethics—among other things—more common in simpler times. Jackson relayed his thoughts on the matter, per Herring:
We hope that Carmelo is true to his word, and we understand what it's gonna take when we present [our plan] to him at that time. I'd like to appeal to his better nature of winning. That's what we want to do.
If Anthony does indeed agree to a contract worth less than the "five years and up to $129 million" New York can offer him, the team will be able to do more with the rest of the roster. Jackson said:
I think a precedent has been set in the league with how things are structured now financially for teams to where it's really hard to just have one or two top stars, or max players, and put together a team with enough talent...
So part of the sales pitch would have to be surrounding Anthony with players who can help him win in the future—something that would be difficult to do with a max contract on the books.
If that isn't enough to convince him to stay in New York, I'm sure Jackson has a few other tricks (pleas?) up his sleeve that he can present. Maybe even a little Zen magic.
Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.