Chauncey: Melo 'needs strong leadership'

GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- Carmelo Anthony shouldn’t have played in the All-Star Game and he could use some more leadership in the Knicks' locker room, according to former teammate Chauncey Billups.

Billups, who now is an analyst for ESPN, doesn’t understand why the decision was up to Anthony on when to have season-ending knee surgery as well.

“I said it all weekend, I wasn’t crazy about his decision to play in the All-Star Game and not play for his own team,” Billups said on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. “My thing is if you are hurt and you know you are going to shut it down, just get the surgery and make that commitment that the Knicks made to him and just get better and not worry about playing for the fans and the All-Star Game. I thought it was poor judgment but to each his own.”

Billups, who played with Anthony for three seasons in Denver and New York, thinks his former teammate will thrive with more leadership around him.

“I enjoyed playing with Melo in the years I had with him,” Billups said. “My perception of him [is] he really needed my guidance, he needed my leadership. I don’t know that he quite knew how to lead a team or a franchise but at that time he was young. I can’t expect him to. He was already a great player but he is best served when he doesn’t have to be the leader of the team.

“That has been shown for years with me and even the year that Jason Kidd played with the Knicks -- he was kind of the leader of the team and that team was a good basketball team. That’s kind of how I perceive him. He is a great player and one thing I love about Melo is he practiced hard every day. He didn’t sit out games. He was a good soldier, pretty sure he still is. But I think he needs other strong leadership in that locker room with him.”

Team president Phil Jackson could be thinking on the same page as Billups. Will the Zen Master be able to put the right pieces around Anthony this summer or next?

“I am not sure,” Billups said. “This is uncharted waters for Phil Jackson. He’s never put together a team and been the president. I got faith in him as a coach.

“I have seen what he can do as a coach but I haven’t seen what he can do as a president. I got to think that he’s got a great feel for putting the right egos and talent and skill sets together. But in this short little span, we haven’t seen it yet.”