Why Knicks’ biggest problem may be Carmelo — who won’t go away


A total of 45 players have suited up for the Knicks, under four head coaches, since Phil Jackson took over as president in March 2014, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

The roster has been changed almost twice over. Of course, the only player Jackson inherited, who has remained, through thin and thin, is Carmelo Anthony. Probably due to his no-trade clause.

So who is most to blame for the Knicks’ mess across the past three years?

Jackson’s record since his first full season is 67-137.

Nevertheless, one NBA personnel director told The Post that Anthony still beats out Jackson for top culprit.

“Phil’s only really bad move was signing [Joakim] Noah,” the NBA talent evaluator said. “He needed a quick fix with the [Derrick] Rose trade, and Robin Lopez was his only tradeable asset. But the biggest problem is Melo — the common denominator.”

 Another season is spiraling away, with the Knicks (18-22) on a 2-9 slide approaching Sunday’s halfway mark in Toronto. There’s renewed intrigue into whether Anthony ever would waive his no-trade clause. TNT’s Brent Barry said this week he should.

Anthony hedged in February last season, but in recent months, he has reversed course. Basketball Insiders cited a source close to Anthony on Friday stating he still is “unwilling” to waive it.

Nevertheless, Charley Rosen, one of Jackson’s longtime friends, wrote in a Thursday column on FanRag.com, in an unsourced piece: “It’s understood that [Anthony would] only accept being dealt to the Cavaliers or the Clippers” and possibly could be sold on the Lakers.

Rosen, though, wrote that a trade scenario is “highly doubtful” with those clubs because, with Anthony nearing his 33rd birthday, “does anybody want to dispense with a rotation player, or a young sub and/or a first-round draft pick?”

The bigger issue — beyond Anthony’s consent — are the trade rules under the collective bargaining agreement. Anthony’s 15 percent trade kicker — which the Knicks pay — would bump his salary’s cap count to $30 million. Teams over the cap have to exchange roughly equal salaries. That would be a nightmare.

If you want further clues on how Jackson may really feel about Anthony, Rosen’s piece all but trashes the veteran. Indeed, Anthony finally may miss being chosen for an All-Star Game, and certainly won’t be a starter, but Rosen went so overboard George Karl would be proud.

Rosen, the odds-on favorite to pen Jackson’s memoir of his Knicks presidential years, wrote Anthony’s “legs are going, going, almost gone. As ever, he’s still a dangerous scorer, but resists any offensive game plan that limits his one-on-one adventures.”

Rosen also wrote: “While he’s never been accused of playing defense, Anthony is intent on saving even more steps on this end of the game to conserve his energy for offense.” He added, Anthony “has been mostly shooting blanks in the clutch.”

And then the damning kicker: “The only sure thing is that Carmelo Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York.”

Jackson has continued his vendetta against the New York media, failing to talk since Sept. 22. In an interview last month on a CBS Sports cable channel, he criticized Anthony as a ball-stopper, which infuriated Anthony.

Last season, the Zen Master, when addressing Anthony’s future, said he had a no-trade clause, so it wasn’t worth discussing. In fact, a source told The Post that Jackson and general manager Steve Mills wouldn’t engage in trade talks because it is a waste of time without Anthony’s consent.

If Anthony rides it out, he would have two years left on his deal entering next season, but with a player option for the final year. Essentially, Anthony could be entering his walk year in 2017-18.

It makes sense on some level for Anthony to finish out the season. He’s still “The Man” here, polarizing as he may be. With Kristaps Porzingis hampered by Achilles tendon soreness and slumping since December, the Knicks’ universe still orbits around Anthony, and that’s great for him.

After all, he just came out Friday with a new “Carmelo Anthony App” — with emojis and voiceovers stating stuff like “Stay Melo” and “Don’t Quit,” but not “I lost my man again.”

When the Knicks finally won a game against Chicago on Thursday, Anthony appeared mentally and physically wiped out, but his words were all positive. He cited the standings — the club is in 10th place, just two games out of the eighth playoff spot and 2½ games out of the fourth hole in the miserable Eastern Conference.

“I’m not a standings guy this early, but look at it,” Anthony said. “I’m very optimistic of what we can do. I’m the most positive person there is.”

Asked in Philadelphia on Wednesday if he still had faith in the Phil Process, Anthony said, “I’ll always have faith as long as I’m here. I’ll always have faith in my ability and our team’s ability.”

Whether Jackson still has faith in Anthony is a different story.

Source: nypost.com