Phil, Melo and the Ten Dollar Carrot

[Editor’s note: This is guest post from friend-of-the-blog Dan Litvin.]

A photo posted to the Instagram account of one Josh Wolfe (username: wolfejosh) depicts what appears to be Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony dining at the restaurant American Cut. The photo is grainy, so the diners may actually be Alan Arkin and a unicorn, but if it is Phil and Melo, then it is Knicks-related, which means I can talk about it here, which means I can discuss the fact that American Cut has a carrot you can buy for $10!

Photo: Grub Street via Melissa Hom
Photo: Grub Street via Melissa Hom

The $10 carrot appears on the menu as a “Carrot Glazed Carrot” with mint and something called maldon. Yum! It’s a real thing, I assure you. I know because I have tried it.

Last year, the law firm where I toil, did enough business that it was able to distribute its regular bonus, which I used to treat myself and my wife to dinner at American Cut.

I asked our server for the $10 Carrot Glazed Carrot, sheepishly, because I expected him to laugh and tell me that that particular menu item is not a real menu item but a rather an arch, wry joke for the foodie/glitterati set that patronize an establishment such as this on the regular.

You know, the kind of folks that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at the thought of a $10 Carrot Glazed Carrot. But he did not laugh, and I would soon receive my luxurious, overpriced taproot with taproot sauce.

Here is my review of the $10 Carrot Glazed Carrot: it was soft, probably steamed or baked, and then glazed with a carroty tasting sweet glaze of carroty richness. It also had mint and maldons. As far as $10 carrots go, it was probably as worth it as you can get, but I would have gladly paid another thousand or so dollars if it was drizzled rendered Wagyu fat and sprinkled with gold flakes. We truly live in a gilded age.

Money is no object to gentlemen in the tax bracket of Messrs. Jackson and Anthony, so I’m going assume they each ordered at least fourteen Carrot Glazed Carrots. And in that freewheeling spirit, I assume that his would-be star was deep in a food coma–his eyes practically lolling around in his head whilst he rubbed his sated belly in Rabelasian, gustatory excess–so Jackson saw the perfect opportunity to whisper a few sweet nothings in his ear about the possibility of accepting a tad fewer ducats if/when he does re-up in Gotham.

And perhaps Phil started scribbling plays on linen napkins as he is wont to do, gave Melo a customized pair of Google Glass that displayed his glorious, five-year plan to surround him with noble, selfless ‘mates; pristinely selected, form-fitting proper pieces that will only buttress Melo’s innate greatness in the near and long term, and flapped his silken tongue about Red and The Captain and Clyde and how he was the one true successor to the long-vacated ‘Bocker throne–a true New Yorker that would finally restore the franchise to contender/mythic-status.

Or maybe they just talked about what everyone else talks about when they eat $10 Carrot Glazed Carrots: their stock portfolios, their bond portfolios, monocles, top hats, capitalism, venture capital, mortgage backed securities, securities backed mortgages, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Mac Mae, Freddie Mae, Fannie Mac, Dodd-Frank, The Glass-Steagall Act and whatnot.

Personally, if I were Phil, I would  have picked another hash house with which to break bread, mainly because I’m suspicious of restaurants run by chefs that think they can rock a mohawk. (I did not know this before I dined there with the wife.)

marc-forgione-sobe-lgSeriously dude, you’re not a rebel or an outsider. You sell single-serving vegetables and charge ten freakin’ clams. You ARE the establishment, mang.

Come to think of it, it’s actually the perfect bôite. Phil probably used said menu choice(s) as a teachable moment; illustrating to Melo that paying him the max is just like that $10 Carrot Glazed Carrot, which is delicious and fun to have, but if one wants to have an impactful, nutritious, dining experience on a budget (you know, like the salary cap), maybe one shouldn’t spend ten bucks on ONE CARROT, no matter how sumptuous and carroty the glaze is.

That is, maybe Phil presented Melo with a pre-dinner budget, explained that the gilded Carrot Glazed Carrot would prevent them for enjoying “Dad’s Planked Salmon ($31)” or the “Tomahawk Veal ($59)”. “If we sacrifice the Carrot Glazed Carrot, you won’t have as much food. But I bet we can order a much nicer steak, and have an all around better experience.” Phil surely might have said all this because he’s a freaking genius.

But Phil. Lemme tells ya. If you want a REAL rock n’ roll chef with which to pitch Melo your radical plan to save the Knicks, go to Guy Fieri’s midtown joint. You know why?



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Robert Silverman

Hey, did you know that in addition to banging the keys here and occasionally for the NY Times and at ESPN, Robert is a playwright, an actor and a wand'ring mendicant/gadfly? He also once wrestled a bear...and lost.

33 thoughts to “Phil, Melo and the Ten Dollar Carrot”

  1. That is one amazing Flavortown menu. Any one item would put you in salary cap hell.

  2. Great article.

    Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony spent two hours alone together. No CAA and no MSG minders. Seems like enough time for Phil to articulate his vision for the Knicks and Melo. If Melo buys in, that is a great foundation to build on.

    Carmelo Anthony would be awesome in an offense with ball movement and player movement (like the Triangle).

  3. Here’s the thing. There are no championship caliber teams that Melo can seamlessly transition into. Chicago is a far cry from winning it all. And the Lakers far-er. Houston has D. Howard demanding the ball down low and Harden shooting everything he can taste. Where does Melo fit in? And which of those teams are going to throw boatloads of money at him? And still, Lebron is in the way. Melo’s options are limited if he’s looking for a ring.

    For once, maybe, the knicks won’t be negotiating from a position of perceived weakness. Maybe it’s good that Melo is testing the market. Maybe he’ll find out he’s not a max player and the knicks won’t be dumb enough to make him one.
    And if Melo walks, guaranteed, they’ll be other unexpected opportunities.

    If he stays, this can get exciting. With great ball movement, some spot up shooters, and someone young that can penetrate, the knicks offense can be ballistic.

  4. So if we get a whole new team and Melo completely changes the way he’s played basketball his entire professional career then we’re good?

  5. If the Mavs somehow beat the Spurs, which is unlikely but not impossible, and the Pacers lose, and the Thunder lose, is Miami going to three-peat? I mean, at that point it seems automatic. Either Spoelstra or Pop will hold the trophy come season’s end, but my god, the Heat are staring at the easiest path to the Finals since they made the Superfriends pact and the Spurs are somehow showing weakness against Vince Carter & co. Strange playoffs, so far.

  6. Yeah, screw the ball movement idea and trying to upgrade players more suitable for that system. Just keep doing the same thing.

  7. It is not as if playing the Triangle will require Carmelo to develop a new physical skill. If he plays within the system, he will get his 20 shots/night. He just has to trust Phil/Kerr(?) to design a system that camouflages the lack of a quick PG.

  8. MDA resigned as Lakers’ coach. Increases the (slim) likelihood that the Lakers will attract Carmelo Anthony.

  9. You know, the Melo thing has worked out pretty well one out of four years. Now is the time to double down.

    Why can’t the Knicks find a Wesley Mathhews or a Nic Batum? Somebody tell me why we can’t find a truly productive wing that contributes all over the floor?

  10. I was being slightly facetious. Just a little jealous. I love Batum and Matthews and I love what that org has done after losing both Oden and Roy (remember him?)….

  11. Yeah, I think that’s it exactly. We were hoping that Shump would be the Knicks’ Matthews. The other problem, of course, is that when the Knicks have found undiscovered talent they then only sign them to one-year deals (just like the Jazz did with Matthews) and then lose them the next year (just like the Jazz did with Matthews).

  12. @14 – Yes – Shump was supposed to be our Matthews. I still think he has that ability but time is running short.

    @11 – Really is amazing in retrospect how good Isiah was in terms of talent evaluation. He struck out on Balkman and Mardy Collins, but hit on so many more. From Tom Haberstroh:

    Believe it, folks. Thomas put up an outstanding hit rate in the draft, no matter where he picked. His run of lottery picks in Toronto should be the stuff of lore. He started off by getting Damon Stoudamire with the No. 7 pick in 1995. Then with the No. 2 pick in 1996, he grabbed Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby. The following year in 1997, he nabbed some high schooler named Tracy McGrady at No. 9.

    He found some serious gems outside the lottery, as well. People remember him striking out on Renaldo Balkman at No. 20, but don’t forget he also got David Lee (No. 30 in 2005), Trevor Ariza (No. 43 in 2004), Wilson Chandler (No. 23 in 200) and Nate Robinson (No. 21 in 2005). All told, Thomas’ average pick was the 23rd slot, but the talent he found was more like picking at sixth every year. That’s an absurdly good return. The irony is that Thomas never quite grasped the value of draft picks; he couldn’t wait to get rid of them, despite his overwhelming success on draft day.

    The trouble with Isiah (just in terms of talent evaluation) is that he swung for the fences TWICE – and whiffed on both with the Marbury and Eddy Curry trades. Every GM has a bad trade every now and then, but he pushed all his chips in on two of the worst trades in the last few decades.

    @5 – I think Phil can sell Melo on the fact that Jordan and Kobe didn’t actually have any fewer shots at all under him as compared with others. In fact, Jordan’s usage went UP in Phil’s first year. It’s just that everyone else’s shot quality increased.

  13. Whatever, Phil doesn’t need to sell Melo on anything in terms of the Triange. Melo already knows that Phil has 13 rings, and that Kobe and MJ didn’t win anything without Phil on board, that they each scored a billion points, won MVPs, etc. Yes, that’s as a coach, but he can sell the SYSTEM as the common thread.

    The only team I’m worried about making a big push is Chicago, mostly because they cratered so badly against Washington. Rose, Butler, Melo, Gibson, Noah is an amazing starting 5, although it’s not so easy for them to create space without dumping Gibson unless it’s in a sign and trade.

  14. Chicago is the only other viable option give that Melo wants to be in a big market. Ultimately it just comes down to what Melo wants to do and if he believes in whatever plan that Phil is laying out for him. If Melo chooses to stay I don’t think the Knicks will just stand pat and wait for 2015 to clear the decks. I think they will and they should be prepared to sacrifice some cap space if it will bring back players that can help us become a playoff team and develop a long-term nucleus and identity.

  15. You can’t tell me that choosing to run with Rose isn’t a huge risk. Somebody mentioned Brandon Roy in this thread. Rose could easily be a different type of knee injury version of that.

  16. Oh definitely, but the appeal of Chicago is that even without Rose, if they maintain Gibson and Noah then that’s a winning core right there with Melo. Even if DJ Augustin is your point guard (and if the Bulls outright sign Melo, they’d be able to use a room exception to bring Augustin or Hinrich back).

  17. Will Melo and his handlers see it that way? CAA doesn’t exactly seem to be a subtle defense and rebounding haven.

  18. Isiah was great at drafting terrific players and then trading them for absolute dogs. Never understood that. I still wish we’d kept Ariza, although I would have missed the hilarity that was Larry Brown coaching Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury.

  19. But that Bulls core just lost to the Wizards in 5 in the first round of the worst conference playoffs in the NBA in eons? That’s a team that’s one player away? Think of what the Blazers, Rockets, Thunder would have done to that Bulls team. The Bulls dont need to rebuild but they do need a fairly significant overhaul IMO. Thibs has gotten the max out of a team with mediocre talent. Noah is a star.

  20. I’m really skeptical about Derrick Rose. He has now seen his last 2.5 seasons go down the drain, and he has three more seasons on his $20M+ contract. Melo + Derrick Rose seems an awful lot like Melo + Amar’e all over again, except that Rose is an injury-prone, high-usage PG rather than an injury-prone, high usage PF.

  21. When Rose is healthy, the team depends on him so heavily on offense to create, and the way he is most effective is by driving against big huge guys in the paint, so I can see how the Bulls FO would see Anthony as a huge positive: he’d share the offensive load, which in turn would prolong Rose’s season, and thus provide a greater return on the money they have invested in Rose.

    But does Anthony agree that Rose is too much of a liability, and stay in NY? Is CHI still a better scenario than NY even if Rose is never healthy?

  22. I see chemistry problems with Melo on Chicago. Melo-Rose is a little like Durant-Westbrook light . . . and in a bad way – high usage shooters not moving the ball. The offense turns to chaos. sort of like the knicks. And how long can Melo take Thibs screaming at him to play defense?

  23. Even if the knicks just tweak their roster, their talent is better than people think, assuming Amare stays healthy. The knicks, as individuals and as a team, played well under their potential because of the idiots running the show, from Woodson on up.
    If Doc Rivers coached the knicks this year I think they’d be in the #2 team in the conference.

  24. Chicago was a first round out with an excellent defensive coach this season. The Knicks with a good coach could and should have accomplished exactly the same thing. They have 2 first round picks which is nice, but they also have a potential cap killing contract on their books for the next 3 years, while the Knicks’ books clear in 2015. Chicago’s a slightly better situation currently with a much murkier and unclear future than the Knicks who’s situation will be pretty clear by mid-July.

    Another concern if you’re Melo, Woodson may have ran you into the ground, but not even close to what Thibs does with his guys. Noah finished his season playing 35+ a night with a knee injury after plantar fasciitis the year before. Gibson reaggravated an ankle injury that he’d been playing with and Hinrich and Butler had no legs left and this was the first round of the playoffs. Thibs is a good coach, but he treats every game like Game 7 of the Finals and that mentality has shown it will catch up to you.

  25. This isn’t the first year or even the second year we have said that about Thibs. Depending on your point of view the Bulls underachieve in the playoffs year after year or overachieve in the regular season. Either way you would think some tweaking of philosophy is in order. Either he is stubborn or rather shortsighted. Then again, he seems universally lauded. So for his status and career this approach has worked wonders. Afterall he is a good coach just imperfect.

  26. “Noah finished his season playing 35+ a night with a knee injury after plantar fasciitis the year before.”
    After this year, Melo might view 35 minutes a night as taking it easy…

  27. I don’t get it. Is there a point to this post? I was so bored reading about the stupid carrot, I couldn’t really go on and see if there was anything about the Knicks…

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