Former Knick Greg Anthony, who spent four seasons in New York as a teammate of Charles Oakley, believes players will look at the Knicks in a different light because of the recent treatment of Oakley and Carmelo Anthony.
"It sure as hell ain't gonna help..." said Anthony in an interview with Business Insider. "It's one thing to have your struggles on the court, but this is kind of becoming a domino effect where everything that can go wrong is going wrong for the organization. And it creates a tremendous distraction for the players that are still battling and fighting and figuring out a way to get into the postseason."
The Knicks are facing a rebuild, something the franchise has historically not done slowly through the draft. This past offseason, New York traded for Derrick Rose, while committing over $120 million to Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee in an attempt to improve the team quickly. Anthony believes the situation involving Oakley will not do the team any favors in trying to attract free agents in the future.
"Guys are far more conscientious about their surroundings," Anthony said, comparing current NBA players to those of past generations. "They feel more empowered, I think, as athletes, more willing to make stands and statements about situations like this. You've already seen players and some coaches who have come out to voice their opinion about it. So, I don't think there's any question that moving forward that this could have an impact on the organization and their ability to have relationships with the players."
While money may have been the biggest factor for free agents in the past, Anthony believes today's NBA players value organizational culture and structure signficantly more, which could hurt the Knicks.
"Generally, guys are gonna want to feel like an organization that they're gonna go and commit to is going to have their back. I can tell you that there are gonna be serious questions and concerns about that moving forward," said the NBA TV analyst.
James Dolan may have left his basketball team's personnel matters up to Phil Jackson, but this past week's drama is proof Dolan will somehow always have a hand in things. While the team culture is something Jackson has aspired to elevate, there are clearly many things in play here. It's not an easy thing to change, given the organization's history and scrutiny of playing in the one of the world's biggest markets. It can be an unfortunate combination, even as they look to change their ways.
Violence is never the answer, but Charles Oakley was seemingly provoked and isolated in a way such a fan favorite should not be. This situation should have been handled with more consideration. By (initially) banning Oakley, Dolan risked spoiling the team's relationship with one of their favorite sons, all the while irking the fan base and drawing ire from some of the NBA's greats, past and present.
Players (or more specifically, prospective free agents) make note of this poor culture. It's worth mentioning that the rest of Carmelo Anthony's "banana boat crew," LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul, all took to social media to express their discontent with the way Oakley was treated. Not only are they all good friends of New York's star forward, but each of them stands tall as some of the most notable faces and voices of the NBA. As (Greg) Anthony notes, these guys are ambassadors of the game to the general sports world. Like Anthony, James and Paul both hold prominent positions in the NBPA.
The Knicks may not be gearing up for a repeat of the 2010 summer (when they hoped to attract James and Wade), but the influence is still there. This isn't just about disappointing a handful of players. Players like James, Wade, and Paul set examples and hold a lot of influence. How they feel should be indicative of how many others are going to feel when considering the Knicks.
Money talks when it comes to adding free agents. The Knicks are always going to be able to pay for players. That said, these players may not be of the top tier talent New York is hoping to attract. When it comes to the best players in the NBA, they'll always be able to secure a maximum (or similar) level contract anywhere they go, because their skills and the market will dictate as much. From there on out, the decision as to where to sign comes down to wanting a chance to win, a positive atmosphere, a place to be treated fairly, etc.
Given all that's gone on with Carmelo, Oakley, and others most recently, this organization is creating doubt they'd be able to provide that.