A little over 3 years ago, the Knicks were in the middle of a playoff push when legendary Head Coach Phil Jackson took over as President of Basketball Operations. Things were supposed to get better. Phil was signed to make things happen for the Knicks. Fans for the most part were happy with the signing but remained skeptical because this would be Jackson’s first job in charge of actually running a basketball organization. He was trusted with turning the Knicks into a contender, to build a team around Carmelo Anthony. A huge challenge to say the least. Fast forward three years and the Knicks find themselves in worse shape than when Isiah Thomas was around.
The Losing and Frustration
To say that the tenure of Phil Jackson has been bad is an understatement. I was once of those fans who had hope and thought things would get better. You kind of shrugged off a bad trade to bring in an older point guard who he thought would run the offense he wanted. Also surprising was when his first choice (Steve Kerr) to coach the team turned him down. It was concerning that Phil was turned down by one of “his” guys. So what happened in his first full year in charge of the organization? I’ll tell you what, the worst season in Knicks franchise history (17-65 W-L). Which says a lot considering they’re one of the original 11 NBA teams and the fact that they have been bad for long stretches of time but NEVER this bad.
The saving grace from that year was knowing the Knicks had their 1st round draft pick which thankfully wasn’t traded away, unlike previous years. The Knicks drafted what many people were hoping for: a franchise player to build around for the next 10 years. In came Kristaps Porzingis, a very talented and out of nowhere basketball sensation that inspired fans with his play and for his hunger to succeed in the big city. Fans weren’t expecting greatness from the team right away but there was hope. The team record in Phil’s 2nd full season running things, an ugly 32-50 W-L record. Year three of the Phil Jackson regime resulted in a: 31-51 W-L season. That makes it 80-166 in 3 full seasons. Ouch.
I can go on and on about what’s wrong with the team but it starts at the top. It’s the lack of consistency of how the team is expected to play. I’ve never heard of a system, in this case the triangle offense get so much scrutiny in any other team sport. The fan-base is tired of it, the media can’t stop cracking jokes about it and quite frankly it’s just a bit much. It’s an offense that revolves around ball movement and positioning. Nothing crazy but let’s just say it hasn’t worked out. Hey, who can blame him when he’s got 11 rings, right? Different story for another day but the players the Knicks have are not feeling it.
Basketball has evolved into a higher pace game that relies on speed, defense and a lot of shooters. There is talent but Knicks are stuck trying to implement a system that no one on the team wants to play, a system that is against shooting too many 3 point shots which in this league you need to do in order to win. As Phil Jackson would say “There’s some resistance”. He really believes in it but it’s killing the franchise and most of all the fans. Just go on twitter and see what the fans think about Phil. Go ahead, I dare you.
Too many times over the past 3 years we’ve come to read about Phil Jackson taking shots at Carmelo and the team. You hear more negative press about the Knicks than you do about any other franchise in the league. Which free agent would want to come to the city and deal with this mess? Players around the league read and hear about the dysfunction. Let’s just say New York is not that popular with free agents. The team has missed the playoffs the past 4 seasons. Wasting away the prime years of Carmelo Anthony who is more than happy to try and stick it to Phil by not waving his no trade clause, which would bring even more drama to the team next season.
Can the Knicks be fixed?
Unfortunately there is no easy fix here. A couple of things need to change in order to turn things around DESPITE having Phil Jackson in charge. That’s the key here since he’s not going anywhere, at least not for the next 2 years. The team has to trade Carmelo. He is not the same player anymore. It’s win a championship time now or never for Melo and he knows that. Trust me, it’s not happening in New York anytime soon. The Knicks would need to get some draft picks back and hopefully a decent player in return but they might not even get that. A draft pick or two would do it. You start clean and make sure young Kristaps is on board with the direction the franchise takes. You do not want to mess around with the possibility of him not being happy in New York, especially before he is due his first big NBA payday in a few years.
Next step, sign a point guard who can get the ball to his teammates, can shoot and play D. Am I asking for too much here? Maybe I am but they need one in the worst way. Under no circumstance do you re-sign Derrick Rose. Just don’t. I don’t want to mention his name ever again. You build around Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez . The front court is set. Do not mess around with it. The team has a few, nice young players but they need to show us major growth in 2017-2018 in order for the fan base to keep believing in them. Last but not least, stop with the Triangle Offence. This is the biggest hurdle. Let coach Hornacek run what he wants. Allow him to get the most of his players running his system. No more trying to run one system half the season and then try something else the other half. Just No. You want stability in your franchise. You expect results from that. If it doesn’t work than you move on but until then don’t come barging in demanding players to play your way or else. The franchise has hit the reset button too many times. If they keep doing so without a solid plan, things will only get worse before they get better.