Did the New York Knicks' superstar Carmelo Anthony, right, drive Jeremy Lin out of New York? A source close to the team thinks so, according to an article in ESPN magazine issued this week. (Photo : Reuters)
Was Carmelo Anthony behind the departures of former New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin and ex-coach Mike D'Antoni?
In an ESPN article published for the sports news network's magazine-published online Tuesday-ESPN's Tim Keown speaks to a source "close to the team" that links Anthony, a Brooklyn native and arguably the top superstar for the Knicks, to both the sudden departure of D'Antoni in mid-season last year and the subsequent production decline of Lin, who bolted for Houston this summer to join the Rockets.
In interviews with several sources described as close to either Knicks players or the organization, Anthony-who came to New York in the middle of the 2010-2011 season via a multi-team deal with the Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Timberwolves-was said to have been very discontent with Lin controlling the ball and running an up-tempo, less structured game that resulted in the Knicks surging during the second half of last season to eventually make the playoffs.
"Jeremy is a tough guy," a source close to the team told ESPN. "He told Carmelo under no uncertain terms, 'I'm not going to give you the ball unless you create space and run the plays.' None of the other guys had a problem with it. Tyson [Chandler] didn't, Amar'e didn't. They knew they had a better chance with the ball in Lin's hands in the last few minutes."
As a result, the source said, a member of the agency representing Anthony told Knicks owner James Dolan that the Knicks superstar was not pleased with D'Antoni's playing style for the team-which, the source implied, led to D'Antoni's removal as the head coach.
"Lin was getting what Carmelo was promised," says a source close to the team. "And Carmelo thought D'Antoni was going to favor Jeremy, so he had to get D'Antoni out of there.
Lin, who was averaging 22.5 points and 8.7 assists when he made the starting lineup for the Knicks during the "Linsanity" craze, struggled after D'Antoni was replaced by Mike Woodson and his isolation-style play that featured more shots for Anthony. During the off-season, Lin left the Knicks and signed a four-year, $28 million deal with the Houston Rockets.
This hasn't been the first time that high-profile teammates in the NBA have had public squabbles over roles on the team. The feud between Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant and his ex-teammate, 4-time NBA Champion Shaquille O'Neal-with both men struggling for offensive control on the Lakers-made for constant headlines before O'Neal was eventually traded to the Miami Heat in 2004, where he eventually won a championship with the Heat in 2006.
Yet Anthony has denied several times that he had anything to do with either his coach or Lin's exit from New York, as he told the New York Daily News in July while preparing for the Olympic Games in London.
"It's not something I brag about or broadcast," Anthony told the Daily News. "But I've been one of his supporters along the way. After he signed with Houston I talked to him. He texted me. I'll keep that disclosed what we talked about it. But it was a great text. What he sent me really meant a lot."