The New York Knicks have found themselves in quite the conundrum the last few weeks (months, years, decades). After giving their fans the falsest of hope in the offseason, bringing in two stars well past their prime (an all time Knicks-type move, name brand recognition without the gas left in the tank to help the team win), the roster is as unbalanced as it’s been in years, and any hope for making the playoffs would have been squandered if not for how universally atrocious the 7-13 seeds are in the East. How exactly did the Knicks get into this spot? A team president with the greatest resume in the history of the league who has continued to screw over the franchise that employs him, the worst contract in professional sports, and an aging superstar who not only impedes on the development of the only bright spot on the roster, but also maintains the highest level of leverage of any single player not named LeBron in the league. However, all hope is not futile. There are a few steps the Knicks must follow over the next few years that can bring them back to relevance, let’s take a look at how:
-Fire Phil, Fire Dolan. Phil Jacksons tenure in the Knicks front office has left a bit to be desired. While snatching the basketball unic0rn looks like a coup in retrospect, it’s starting to look more and more like a lucky/advantageous situation created by the (continued) incompetency by the Lakers in overvaluing the flashiness of D’Angelo Russell when far better prospects were on the board (Kristaps Porzingis, Emmanuel Mudiay, Devin Booker, T.J. McConnell).
Lets take a closer look at all the major moves Jackson has made while at the helm for the Knicks:
Its understandable to try and grab assets for the expiring contract of Tyson Chandler. Jose Calderon was serviceable and ended up being trade bait for the Derrick Rose deal, so I guess that’s sort of a positive…? This trade breaks even on the Phil Jackson incompetence scale.
Using the previously acquired Wayne Ellington and high-end prospect/hot garbage Jeremy Tyler to grab Acy and Outlaw? Like trading a pair of Air Monarch 3’s for some Starbury’s. Everyone loses.
This is where things get very questionable for Jackson. What purpose did this serve other than bolstering the Cavaliers bench? The Knicks turned Shumpert, and Smith into Lou Amundson, Lance Thomas, and a second round pick. This isn’t one of those deals that just looks bad in retrospect, the minute this trade when down everyone was looking at Jackson with a Swaggy P confused face. Mad suspect, Phillip.
Not an entirely awful trade, turning a borderline retiree into a decent prospect and a few second round picks. Well it would have been a decent deal if Shved didn’t sign with a Russian team in July of 2015.
On draft night, 2015, the Knicks were moving and shaking, hoping to wheel and deal enough to somehow land a star via trade (unbeknownst to them, their superstar was available right at #3 in the draft), and they found a move to send Hardaway Jr. away which netted them Jerian Grant, who would later be used in the Rose trade. Again, depending on your thoughts on Rose, it was either a waste of assets, or following the Rockets model of collecting assets, then cashing them out for a star.
Another very solid move, at the time, giving away no personnel and acquiring a serviceable backup PF. O’Quinn’s Knicks career hasn’t played out like nearly anyone though it would, but on July 9th, 2015, this deal really didn’t look too bad.
And now we arrive at the Coup de Grace. Giving away Calderon and Grant for a starter is a genius concept. Adding the underpaid and over performing Robin Lopez for one year of the shell of Derrick Rose’s former brilliance? Ludicrous, insanity, bizarre, deranged, preposterous, mental. In what realm of reality was 2016 Derrick Rose worth anything of tangible value in the NBA? No doubt, Phil was on some heavy hallucinogens when this call was made.
Completely unironically, this has been the best move Jackson has made. Letting Stoudemire go out as a Knick was awesome and what the NBA is really about, cashing out as you retire. What could be more American?
As far as Owner James Dolan is concerned? Sign a petition, boycott his awful bands concerts, send him letters, protest outside the garden, contact your local state representative about removing him from office… In all seriousness, change for franchises often starts at the top, and winning has never been at the forefront for Dolan. Look at the Warriors, Chris Cohan played the Bay Area fanbase like a fiddle for years, taking each and every one of them to the bank for over a decade, and then within 5 years of Lacob and Guber buying the Warriors in 2010, the Bay’s team were champions, and solidified as one of the most essential markets in the league. An owners modus operandi matters.
-Trade Carmelo ASAP, if not possible, DO NOT RE-SIGN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. This one should be amended, don’t trade Melo if the haul includes old players that have multiple years left on their deals. The whole purpose of getting rid of Carmelo is two-fold, the Knicks need to free up cap space for future flexibility, and it opens up the offense for KP to take over as the de facto number one option. The Knicks should want no part of a Gilbert Arenas for Rashard Lewis type deal, simply swapping awful contracts with another team in hopes that a change of scenery transforms a player. The real insanity of this whole ordeal is that Carmelo Anthony has a no-trade clause in his contract. Not LeBron James. Not Kevin Durant. Not a top 3 player, and when he signed the deal, the Knicks were well aware he was already on the back half of his career. A player of his caliber has no right to dictate those types of clauses in their deal. Chalk this one up to another brilliant move by the genius Phil Jackson. The worst case scenario would be Carmelo sustaining a major injury next season and him opting in to his $27 million dollar option for 2018/19. Best case? The Cavaliers get swept in the Finals and are desperate for another scoring option and change their mind on the Kevin Love trade, gifting the Knicks one of the most potent front courts in the league.
All this money and trade assets given up for a single playoff series victory. 1. Seven total playoff games won in four series. Nailed it.
-Burn Joakim Noahs contract. Pretend it never happened. The next time Noah shows up to the Garden, deny him entry and act like he never really signed his albatross of a deal. Plaster his photo all over the arena and not let security allow him in the building. Alert the NYPD of grand theft in the first degree. Larceny in its’ cruelest form. The Knicks have 3 more years of declining play, with the starting point of 5.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 0.8 blocks in 22.6 minutes. AND HE’S BEEN HEALTHY. Noah has played in 41 of 47 games! 4 years/$72 million. ON JULY 1ST. Noah will make $19.3 million in 2019/20 when he’ll being turning 35. I’m sure this will end well.
SCREAMING at this Joakim Noah airball FT and his reaction pic.twitter.com/8Tjpxcu10L
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) January 24, 2017
-Abandon the triangle. While the triangle offense has mostly already has been ditched, the offense needs to be tailored to KP’s strengths. That involves him creating for himself and his teammates from the high elbow, not the low block. The team is already pretty ‘meh’ on defense, so why not go full D’Antoni and play a run and gun style offense. The personnel isn’t there for it, but slowing shifting to a high octane offense will let the Knicks get the most of KP’s talents. Pairing him alongside a defensive minded center wouldn’t hurt. (Nerlens Noel anyone?)
-DO NOT RE-SIGN DERRICK ROSE. No matter the circumstances, no matter the contract stipulations. There is no scenario where Rose will be worth anywhere near what he thinks he is. His contract demands will be ludicrous and the Knicks thing to do would be get him to sign for a few million less than the max and call it a win. THERE IS NO POINT TO KEEPING ROSE. They’ve already lost out on the steal of a contract that was Robin Lopez, don’t let this snowball in more years of torture.
-Eat Crow, Draft Right. The Lakers have been doing it for the last 3 years, developing youth the right way. While the results haven’t been there for LA quite yet, the Lakers fans have had to learn the hard way that a solid roster with flexible finances is far more attractive to free agents than just a great media market and nice weather year round. The best sign for the Knicks? They own all their upcoming first round picks. Nail another one of those in the top 5/10, and maybe trade another away for a guard to play pick and roll with KP? Thats an instant playoff contender….in 2020.
-Put Porzingis’ face on every piece of merchandise. Pretty simple. Show KP that the front office has faith in him. Give him the keys to the Garden and let him know they have as much confidence in him as he does when he throws down a put back over someones head.
Don’t ruin this kids enthusiasm, Phil.
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