Brandon Jennings was the Knicks backup point guard to start the season, playing fast and having impressive flashes but generally being erratic. Phil Jackson waived him after the trade deadline to give more run to Ron Baker (the right move), and Jennings landed in a better spot backing up John Wall in Washington.
Back in New York with his new team, Jennings said all the trade rumors around Carmelo Anthony at the trade deadline — and the ham-handed way Jackson handled that situation — did impact the team. Here’s his quote, via Ian Begley at ESPN.
“It definitely took a toll, I think, on the team. Because it wasn’t even about basketball anymore, it was more about what was going on with Melo,” Jennings said, adding that it was one of the wildest situations he has been in during his eight seasons in the league…
“I think it was just a roller coaster, an emotional roller coaster for (Anthony) this year with everything he had to deal with, which isn’t fair,” Jennings said. “For a player to wake up every day and you’re hearing trade rumors and you might be gone and this and that. It was like a two-week span where everybody was hitting your phone, (reading reports) about Melo leaving.”
Jennings is saying what was fairly obvious watching the team at the time.
Trading Anthony would have been the right move — and it will get revisited this summer — the problem was the way Jackson handled it. Jackson gave Anthony a no-trade clause which means to move him required a partnership, they needed to work together (with ‘Melo’s agent) to find a landing spot he liked for a deal that worked for the Knicks. Instead, Jackson started playing mind games through the media trying to make Anthony off-balance and uncomfortable, which was a terrible read of the person — faced with that, Anthony dug in his heels and said he didn’t want to be traded anywhere.
It was a lot of unnecessary drama. Not that the Knicks were going to be good either way with this roster, but combine this distraction with the push-and-pull over the style of play, and the team never had a chance this season.