NBA Writer: Phil Will Be Gone Before Melo

Phil Jackson would like to trade Carmelo Anthony before the Feb. 23 trade deadline. It would give the Knicks assets, it would give them flexibility, and, interestingly enough, it might save Jackson’s job.

“I think if Carmelo is still here before next week’s deadline, I think Phil will be gone first,” AP NBA writer Brian Mahoney said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I’m not sure how much Phil loves this job. He doesn’t do a lot of the stuff that a lot of the other team executives do as far as scouting and talking to the media, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s gone. I know James Dolan said if Phil wants to stay, he’s here for the whole five years of his contract, but I’m just not sure whether that’s Phil’s priority. If he can’t trade Carmelo, he may say, ‘You know what? That was the only move I could really make to fix this team. I can’t change it with the contract he makes and I don’t believe in the way he plays and if that’s the case, I’m going to leave.’ So I think that will be something we have to watch out for down the line.”

As if that weren’t bad enough, the Knicks (23-33) are still reeling from the drama surrounding James Dolan and Charles Oakley. Mahoney doesn’t know for sure what happened, but a key witness – Blake Griffin – has an idea.

“He said he saw Oakley walk down and say something toward Dolan,” Mahoney said. “I think Charles Oakley walked toward his seat and before he got there, he saw where James Dolan was and he probably said something out loud, and Dolan – being kind of unhappy with him for a couple of years – probably reacted too quickly. It’s probably something that James Dolan probably hears a lot of times. He gets a lot of unruly fans in the building, of course, and anyone else he might have let it go, but instead he kind of sent security there too quickly is what I kind of get a sense happened. Everyone kind of overreacted, and they probably could have had a private conversation. As Charles Oakley himself said, when you send a bunch of security people at someone right away and make them feel like they’re a criminal, they react (negatively). Whereas if (Dolan) had sent one police officer there, maybe they could have had that conversation in quiet and everything could have been avoided.”

Dolan made matters worse by implying that Oakley is an alcoholic or addict of some sort.

“It’s not his place to kind of judge someone there,” Mahoney said of Dolan, who has battled alcoholism. “If he wants to reach out to him, say that privately. ‘Hey, Charles, I think you have a problem. Let me see if I can help you with it. Let me see if I can recommend somebody you can talk to.’ But to kind of keep bringing it up doesn’t sound like you’re helping; it sounds like you’re taunting a little bit.”

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