Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim told reporters at Team USA practice this week that Carmelo Anthony would have been better off choosing the Chicago Bulls over the New York Knicks in free agency, and that the deciding factor in his mind was Phil Jackson.
"Just from a basketball point of view it would have been better to go to Chicago because they've got better players," Boeheim, who coached Anthony on Syracuse's national championship team in 2003, said on Monday. "But he wanted to be in New York and he wants to see if they can turn it around there. I think that's a great thing."
Boeheim also said that Anthony probably would have left New York if Phil Jackson hadn't taken over as president of the team.
"I would think so. He stayed because he believes Phil," Boeheim said. "Derek Fisher, he knows the game. If you're going to pick a coach who hasn't coached, he would be the guy I would pick. I think he's a great choice. I talked to Derek a little bit. I think he's really smart. I think he'll be a really good coach. I think they'll show significant improvement this year. If they get a couple of guys down the road, I think they'll be good."
Anthony re-signed with the Knicks for a reported five-year, $124 million deal after meeting with the Bulls, Rockets, Mavericks and Lakers. At the time, he said the money wasn't important. Boeheim, Anthony's former coach, has always been protective of Anthony, so his admitting that Anthony didn't make the best decision in terms of on-court success is a little surprising.
But Boeheim also said that assertion was fairly obvious, and it was. The Bulls offered a better team, the Knicks offered more money, control, the pull of playing in New York, and Jackson.
Boeheim defended Anthony from criticism last year based on who was on the team. While Jackson and even first-year head coach Derek Fisher could be upgrades, it's hard to see the roster being significantly improved over last year. But then, that wasn't why Anthony chose New York. It was about a combination of factors, and the future.