New Knicks coach Derek Fisher thinks Carmelo Anthony can thrive in the triangle offense. He also believes the Knicks can build an NBA title-winner around Anthony.
"In my humble opinion, yes," Fisher said on ESPN 98.7 FM’s "The Michael Kay Show" when asked if Anthony can succeed in Phil Jackson’s triangle offense. "I believe Carmelo can and will thrive in the triangle system. He's actually the prototypical triangle player because of his versatility, we can use him in all five positions on the floor. That's the beauty of the system -- being able to put players around on different spots on the floor.
“I believe [Anthony] can be great, and that's why I believe we can be great right away. Because we have that guy that we can anchor that system around to make the game easier for him but also allow for all of our team to be impactful and to give us something every single night."
But the Knicks coach is certain that Anthony is a championship-caliber player. Anthony is often criticized as a player who can’t win at the highest levels when he is the No. 1 option on a team. He has made it out of the first round of the playoffs just twice in his 11 seasons in the NBA. Fisher isn’t sure if Anthony will be back with the Knicks next season. Anthony is expected to test free agency this summer.
"Yes he can," Fisher told Kay and co-host Don La Greca when asked if Anthony can lead a team to an NBA title. “He actually has done it before at the collegiate level. He hasn't done it at the pro level yet ... but I do honestly believe that he is capable of being the leader of a championship team. He's had USA Basketball experience; he's won a gold medal. He knows what it takes to win.
"But this is basketball. It's a team game. So we have the responsibility, if Carmelo chooses to continue to be with the New York Knicks, we have a responsibility to do everything in our power with him -- but also next to him and around him -- to allow this team to be as successful as it possibly can be. It does not all ride on Carmelo Anthony. It can't be just him night in and night out. We have to make the game easier for him and easier for everybody on our team to be effective and help us win games."
Anthony can sign a $129 million max contract with the Knicks. He can sign a $96 million max contract with another team. ESPN.com reported that the Miami Heat may make a run at Anthony in free agency. Anthony would have to take a significant pay cut to join the Heat.
Fisher reiterated in his interview with Kay and La Greca that he hopes Anthony returns to the Knicks.
"I want to be extremely clear that I would love to have the opportunity to work [with] and coach Carmelo Anthony," Fisher said. "I want him to be back with the New York Knicks and to remain a part of what we're trying to do here and what we will do. So I don't think anyone has expressed a lukewarm feeling about wanting him back. I think we're all trying to be respectful as people. Carmelo is a great person. He's a family guy and they have decisions that are sometimes independent of what is best for everybody else. So you respect that process.
"So I would think [team president] Phil [Jackson], Steve Mills, myself, we're trying hard not to turn this into a 'Carmelo please stay' type of process. At the same time, we have no problem expressing that we do want him as part of this team. We feel we can win a championship with him as our core and centerpiece.”
By Ian Begley