If you read Tim Keown's excellent piece on Anthony in the latest issue of ESPN the Magazine—and you should, it's excellent work—it certainly appears as though Anthony was the key factor in the departure of both men.
Keown paints a portrait of an athlete who wanted to be the lone superstar in New York, and who wasn't pleased when Linsanity gripped the nation. Keown notes that when Anthony came back from injury as Linsanity was in full swing, he refused to play within the offense D'Antoni was running through his new, exciting point guard.
Anthony wanted the offense to run through him on the wing, and that wasn't happening any longer. His desire for isolation plays became an isolation play within the team; Anthony wasn't pleased with the offense, while the rest of the team was fine with letting Lin run the show.
Anthony reportedly began showing less effort at practice, famously didn't join one of D'Antoni's huddles during a game and perhaps pulled off a huge power play, according to Keown:
Behind the scenes, a source close to the team says that William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley, a consultant for the agency that represents Anthony, informed Dolan that Carmelo was not pleased with the direction of the team under D'Antoni. This is nothing new; backstage maneuvering helped engineer Anthony's departure from Denver and Paul's from New Orleans. But when it comes to matters pertaining to Anthony, this source described Dolan as being easily swayed by the notoriously mysterious, famously well-connected and mythically powerful Worldwide Wes.
"Lin was getting what Carmelo was promised," says a source close to the team. "And Carmelo thought D'Antoni was going to favor Jeremy, so he had to get D'Antoni out of there.
"It works out perfect for Carmelo. There's little if any of his DNA on there."
Ironically enough, Anthony did thrive in D'Antoni's system during the Olympics, as Keown notes. But one of the reasons that might have been the case was because Lin wasn't running the show:
"[Anthony's] not an alpha dog. He might think he is, but he's not," says a source close to the Knicks. "He needs to be around someone who is feared, someone who could tell him what to do. He just couldn't see Jeremy Lin that way. He could see Kobe and LeBron that way in the Olympics, sure, but not Jeremy Lin. Carmelo's whole thing is perception."
D'Antoni was an assistant coach on the Olympic team. His role? Design the offense. Let that sink in for a moment: Team USA's offense, the one in which Anthony set a single-game U.S. Olympic record with 37 points, was precisely the point-guard- dominated, fast-twitch scheme D'Antoni ran -- and Anthony rebelled against -- in New York.
Now, if Anthony did run Lin out of town, it was a far less overt power play than it appears he played with D'Antoni. Yes, he did clog New York's offense under D'Antoni, thereby rendering Lin far less effective. And yes, it doesn't seem like a stretch to suggest that Anthony's ego had a hard time accepting Linsanity.
But the Knicks could have re-signed Lin in the offseason had they wanted. They could have told Anthony to learn to co-exist with Lin. They could have reminded Anthony that he was an overrated, one-way player who should adapt to the offensive system he was in, and not the other way around.
Okay, so maybe they couldn't have said that last part. But the truth is, Lin probably priced himself out of New York. Not because the Knicks couldn't afford Lin, but because they couldn't afford Lin with the potential headaches that might emerge.
The Knicks weren't going to match Houston's hefty offer to Lin knowing the issues that could arise with Anthony. Had he come at a cheaper cost, perhaps he would have stayed. Or perhaps the Knicks simply wanted to wash their hands of the whole thing.
Whatever the case may be, Lin was the second of two dominoes. If Anthony wanted the offense to run through him again—and thereby regain his throne as king of New York basketball—it was D'Antoni who had to go.
If Lin followed, so be it. If Lin stayed, he would have to run things through Anthony now that Mike Woodson was in town anyway. It was Linsanity that Anthony seemed to have issue with; if he killed that, who cared if Lin stuck around?
Of course, Anthony's reported actions did run Lin out of town, overtly or not. Anthony pulled a power play, and Lin was an inevitable domino that was knocked aside.
Keown relies on unnamed sources, which does raise some questions: Who would be willing to potentially expose Anthony like this? Is someone in the organization trying to knock him down a few pegs? Are there people in the organization who think they were better off with D'Antoni and Lin?
And perhaps most importantly, is there resentment festering in New York toward Anthony?
That last question is the most relevant. Anthony seemingly got the team and situation he wanted for now. His isolation play worked, at least for now.
But what happens to the Knicks if his teammates and coaches decide they're sick of running that play?