NEW YORK, USA - The off-season is bringing no respite for the dysfunctional New York Knicks.
The NBA Players Association has taken Knicks president Phil Jackson to task for telling reporters at a post-season press conference that Knicks star Carmelo Anthony "would be better off somewhere else.”
Jackson indicated the Knicks would continue to explore trade options for the 10-time All-Star, who was the subject of repeated trade rumors during the regular season.
"We voiced with the Commissioner today our view on the inappropriate comments by Knicks President Phil Jackson," NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts said in a statement released Saturday night.
"If players under contract cannot, under threat of league discipline, speak openly about their desire to be employed elsewhere, we expect management to adhere to the same standards.
"The door swings both ways when it comes to demonstrating loyalty and respect."
Tension between Anthony and Jackson was just one of the problems the Knicks dealt with in a dismal 31-51 campaign - their fourth straight losing season.
Anthony, who said he didn't want to be traded and had no plans to waive the no-trade clause in his contract, was nevertheless irked by what he said was a lack of direct communication from team brass about his role.
"If somebody was talking bad about you indirectly at your job, what would you do," Anthony said last week - before Jackson's comments on Friday.
"You would want that person to come straightforward to you."
After the Knicks final game on Wednesday, he said he would be "open" to being traded. But Jackson's latest comments in the absence of a prospective deal are seen as damaging to Anthony's trade value - and make the Knicks themselves a less attractive landing spot for other top players.
The latest instalment of the Jackson-Anthony saga came amid reports that rising star Kristaps Porzingis, the Latvian big man seen as the cornerstone of any Knicks rebuilding plans, skipped his exit meeting with Jackson and other team officials.
New York newspaper Newsday reported the move was a way of signalling his frustration with the drama surrounding the club.
Whatever the Knicks' troubles, they are apparently counting on Jackson to solve them.
Jackson is the most successful coach in NBA history. He led the Michael Jordan-inspired Chicago Bulls to 6 NBA titles and followed with five NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers.