George Karl apparently forgot for a second he’s not an ESPN analyst anymore and not the coach of the Sacramento Kings — he didn’t have to offer advice on Carmelo Anthony and fitting in with the Knicks.
Then again, Karl has coached Anthony for most of seven seasons in Denver, and he knows the superstar’s game as well as anyone. So when he was asked what he would do to help get Anthony going in New York next year, he gave an interesting answer.
“I would go get a great point guard and then find some good big guys. I think you have a stud scorer [in Anthony] — get me a brain, get me a quarterback and then fill in the pieces with maybe second-tier big guys,” Karl said in an interview with ESPN New York on Tuesday morning. “The efficiency of big men in this league, there’s only about five or six of them….
“We had the most success when we had Andre [Miller] and/or Chauncey [Billups] — when we had a point guard that kind of orchestrated the rhythm of the offense,” Karl said.
There’s some real logic to this: ‘Melo is a ball stopper of the first degree on offense. His natural tendency is to hold the ball and look for a way to attack, usually in isolation. Which plays right into the hands of the Tom Thibodeau-inspired defenses that the majority of NBA teams use. It leads to inefficient ball. However, get in a real quarterback and he can keep the ball moving, push it in transition more, get other guys touches and make sure Anthony gets his as well.
The problem? That’s not how the triangle works (at least as Phil Jackson runs it). It’s not an offense for a traditional, old-school one. Go ask Gary Payton about being a triangle point guard.
You can make a very good argument — one I would say will bring quicker results — that this summer the Knicks should slide away from the triangle, because ‘Melo is not a natural fit for it. Instead, bring in a quality point guard. They will be out there and available, either through free agency or trade (this is a golden age for quality point guards in the league). Then populate the roster with shooters (and a few guys who can defend) and go to work.
But Jackson and the Knicks seem wed to the triangle and proving it can still work. If so, ‘Melo has to adjust, something Karl also noted.
“Carmelo is a very bright basketball IQ guy, so the triangle is going to be different for him. I think it can enhance some of his skills and I think he’s going to have sacrifice some of his commitment to playing the way maybe he’s played in the past,” Karl said.
Can he do that? Should the Knicks ask him to?
It’s going to be another hot and interesting summer in New York.