Kurt Rambis played a hobbled Carmelo Anthony essentially ALL OF THE MINUTES in Wednesday night's loss to the Hornets, going against Melo's own clearly expressed vision of handing out more minutes to younger players over the past few meaningless games.
It should come as little surprise, then, that Melo reiterated his belief that he should have a voice in the process of promoting (or not promoting) the interim head coach. Per Stefan Bondy:
"I would love to have some type of input when it comes to that," said Anthony, who complimented Rambis' job but also has implored the Knicks to interview other candidates. "I think you have to. I think you have to have some kind of input or dialogue or whatever word you want to use. I think you have to have that. At this point it has to be some type of connection, some type of communication."
If you'd like to know what Melo's seal of approval looks like, here's what he had to say about Mike Woodson during his interim period late in the 2011-12 ... again, per Bondy:
"Absolutely, absolutely. I'd love to see him back," Anthony said. "I support that. Everybody knows what he's done thus far since he's been here in this short period that he's had the head coaching job. There's no need to cut it off right now. We're kind of just getting started."
Same scenario, same player, separated by four years. Sure, the Knicks were winning under Woodson at the time, but it was still a tenuous, crazy moment in a tenuous, crazy season. Melo's response to Rambis has been completely different. Including his time as an assistant coach, Rambis has worked with Melo for two seasons now, and yet the player's sound byte contained variations of the phrase "I think you have to have input" four times! Melo isn't ready to sign off.
Interestingly enough, Marc Berman reported that Jackson could be more concerned about fan backlash than interference from James Dolan:
Jackson, according to a source, is cognizant of Rambis not being the popular fan choice, partly due to his disastrous stint with Minnesota and losing record with the Knicks. That's why he still hasn't made a move and could still have a mystery candidate in mind. Sources have indicated for a while owner James Dolan is not expected to stand in the way of a Rambis hire.
There's no mention of Jackson selling Rambis to the players, which is odd. It seems clear that Jose Calderon and Robin Lopez -- especially Lopez -- aren't high on the coach. Arron Afflalo might not be here next season, but prospective free agents have to be watching the bizarre way Rambis handled his benching. But it is Melo who has the power of a no-trade clause to hold over the organization. He's absolutely beloved by the younger players -- particularly Kristaps Porzingis -- and apparently veterans like Jose Calderon and Robin Lopez respect him enough to band together with him in his plan to ask for change the rotation.
Old Knicks fans are going to crucify me for this, but Carmelo Anthony is undeniably the captain (lower-case 'c') of the New York Knicks. It's his team, and he's shown this season that he is responsible enough to carry that load. And right now he just may be the one guy who can stop the Rambis hiring. Will he go up against the Zen Master this summer? It all depends on just how strongly he feels about making real changes on the bench.