Posted April 03, 2014

Phil Jackson: Carmelo has had a ‘tough year’ with the Knicks

NBA
Phil Jackson has already made clear to Carmelo Anthony that he wants him back. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Phil Jackson has already made it clear to Carmelo Anthony that he wants him back. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

New Knicks president Phil Jackson said he has had the opportunity to talk with impending free agent Carmelo Anthony — but those conversations have focused more on the present than the future.

Jackson spoke to reporters at the Knicks’ practice facility on Thursday, his first news conference since he was introduced two weeks ago. Jackson praised Anthony for carrying much of the lifting during a tumultuous Knicks season.

“We’ve had a couple occasions to talk,” Jackson said Thursday, according to ESPN.com. “We haven’t really delved into the future as much as what’s gone on, getting to know each other type of thing. Trying to see how he’s feeling about playing.

“He’s had to carry a big load. It’s been a tough year for him. But it’s been a tough year for everyone. It’s not just isolated with him. But I think he feels the weight of it a lot more on himself.”

Lately, Jackson has seen Anthony’s efforts start to payoff in the form of wins, as his teammates have started playing better. The Knicks have won 12 of their past 15 games, and they have climbed ahead of the Atlanta Hawks by percentage points for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

“Carmelo’s really stepped into another level of trying to help players,” Jackson said. “I think that’s one of the things that we see that Carmelo can do and that he’s grown as he’s gone along. Those are issues that are not only on the basketball court. They’re off the basketball court, they’re in practices, they’re in the training room, in the locker room, where players learn to lead and push the team forward with their energy.”

For now, Jackson isn’t traveling with the team. But he plans to be at every Knicks playoff game if they qualify.

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