Derek Fisher's firing was the latest in a long list of changes since Carmelo Anthony joined the New York Knicks.
NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony stood in front of a throng of media members and reflected on the latest change during his tenure with the New York Knicks.
Anthony arrived in New York from Denver via trade in the 2010–11 season. The Knicks’ decision to fire Derek Fisher just before the midseason means that Anthony is now on his fourth head coach in six years. He cycled through Mike D’Antoni and Mike Woodson in the first four, and after a year and a half with Fisher, the remainder of Anthony’s 12th season will be played for interim coach Kurt Rambis.
“It’s tough,” Anthony said. “At night when I kind of wrap my brain around it and put everything into perspective as far as how many coaches I’ve been through since being here, how many players, how many different teammates I've been through since being here. You try to find some type of consistency when it comes to that, but, like I said, the business of basketball is a tough business.”
As he noted, Anthony is better acquainted with this side of the business than many of his teammates, including young players like rookie Kristaps Porzingis. Fisher, who played 18 seasons in the NBA, also realized that his termination was part of a vicious cycle that often plays out in the NBA, Anthony said.
“As a player of his caliber, a guy who’s been in this league a long time, who’s seen a lot, been through a lot, he understands that things like this happen,” Anthony said. “It’s unfortunate, but he definitely gets that things like this happen.”
While the Knicks have dropped nine of their last 10 games and sit at 24–31 on the season, Anthony found it hard to pinpoint a specific incident or loss that led directly to Fisher’s firing. He wasn’t consulted in the decision and described it as a move that was totally on management. He did acknowledge that the Knicks haven’t played well over the last couple weeks and bore some blame for Fisher being let go, however.
“This was something I didn’t see coming, nobody saw coming, so you have to continue to put your trust into Phil [Jackson],” Anthony said. “At this point what could you do? You can’t shy away from that, can't go against it. So for me I have to trust in him. I decided to stay here, I decided to put that trust in the Knicks and trust into Phil, and I have to continue to do that.”
Similarly, Rambis said the Knicks’ current string of losses came during a stint that was going to be tough for the team no matter what. He did mention a lack of connection between players, a statement that echoed comments made in Cleveland after first-time NBA coach David Blatt was fired in January. Rambis didn’t provide specific examples on either side of the floor, but said on offense it is sometimes obvious when players bypass basketball principles in search of their own shot.
Anthony has been called a ball-stopper in the past, but he has been a more willing passer this season. He averages a career-high 4.2 assists per game and talked about helping young teammates come to grips with a coaching change in the middle of the season.
Although he understands changes are made and coaching can come and go, Anthony said he enjoyed the time he spent playing for Fisher.
“For me, my short stint with [Fisher], my hat goes off to him as a coach, as a player,” Anthony said. “I respected him a lot, especially for coming in and taking on this seat, here in New York coaching the Knicks, a first-time coach. So it was a new experience for him, and I’m pretty sure me knowing him that he will learn from this experience and he will be on somebody else's sideline pretty soon if that's what he wants.”