NBA PM: Jeff Hornacek’s Loud Silence


Hornacek’s Silence on Carmelo Speaks Volumes

Jeff Hornacek and Phil Jackson have been about as subtle as a woodpecker; they each want Carmelo Anthony gone. From Jackson’s perspective, that much has been obvious for quite some time, but if there was any doubt about how Hornacek felt about Anthony and his future with the club, he probably tipped his hand on Tuesday.

As Hornacek confirmed that Anthony would sit out the team’s final game of the season on Wednesday, he, of course, was asked about Anthony and whether or not his time with the team had come to an end. As quoted by Marc Berman of the New York Post, Hornacek didn’t exactly give the 32-year-old, 10-time All-Star a ringing endorsement.

“I think it’s all his choice still with his contract,’’ Hornacek said when asked directly whether he wanted Anthony back. Although not necessarily negative, sometimes, it’s more about what you don’t say than what you do. As Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap and Chris Paul prepare for free agency this summer, how do you think any of their head coaches would have responded if asked whether they wanted their franchise players back?

Hornacek’s failure to answer in the affirmative speaks volumes, but isn’t necessarily surprising. It also isn’t necessarily wrong. The Knicks are clearly a team that, unfortunately for the franchise, is still rebuilding. Hornacek said as much, and also suggested that the young players the club is trying to develop might be better off without Anthony.

“It would be beneficial for a veteran guy with young players for the leadership, the knowledge of the game. It could be a positive,” Hornacek said when asked whether Anthony fit into the “youth movement” that appears to be taking shape around him. “It’s a negative if the young guys rely on the veterans to do everything and they don’t move forward. That’s the bad part of it.”

Berman’s report does a solid job of both laying out the facts and relaying Hornacek’s words, but sometimes, what isn’t said speaks just as loudly.

As Anthony and the franchise he has played with for the past six years appear headed for a divorce, it should be pointed out that the 22.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game are not all that far off from his career averages of 24.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Anthony will turn 33 years old next month, but he still has some tread on his tires and, many believe, would look good next to Chris Paul (presumably in a Clippers uniform). He may look just as good in a Portland Trail Blazers uniform, but he will continue to hold all of the leverage, considering his well-reported no-trade clause.

Before April 11, most people thought that Anthony had played his last game for the Knicks. If you read between the lines, Jeff Hornacek said just as much, even if he didn’t.

Cavaliers Settling For Second Seed?

It all comes down to the final night of the regular season, and who could have foreseen that? The Boston Celtics will have an opportunity to secure the best record in the Eastern Conference with a win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. Meanwhile, if the Celtics lose and the Cavaliers defeat the visiting Toronto Raptors, the Cavaliers would earn the top seed by virtue of the tiebreaker.

It’s interesting, but is it a big deal? Maybe not.

The Cavaliers have been struggling lately, to put it mildly. The club entered the All-Star break at 39-16 and is just a staggering 12-14 since. What makes it more interesting is the fact that the Cavaliers seem almost content to settle for the second seed, as general manager David Griffin confirmed that James would sit out the team’s regular-season finale on Wednesday. Along with James, who is nursing a sore calf, both Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson have missed games recently, as well.

The Cavs are attempting to win the Eastern Conference for the third consecutive year while LeBron James is attempting to play in his seventh consecutive NBA Finals. Fortunately, for James, holding the conference’s top seed doesn’t appear to be a requisite for winning a championship. In 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015, James’ teams finished with the second seed in the Eastern Conference, and in 2012, his team beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals. He has had no problem knocking off the top seed in the conference over the years, whether it was the Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers or Chicago Bulls.

Seemingly content to settle for the second seed, if James is to make his seventh consecutive trip to the NBA Finals (and eighth overall), he may have to add the Celtics on that list.

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About Moke Hamilton

Moke Hamilton

Moke Hamilton is a Deputy Editor and Columnist for Basketball Insiders, covering the NBA and international basketball.