Derek Fisher isn’t having any of this “rebuilding” nonsense. The New York Knicks coach thinks his team is beyond the phase of building for the future, and is ready to win now. As he tells Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press:
”If rebuilding for us is based on the fact that we don’t have a certain caliber of player on our roster quote-unquote other than Carmelo, so people assume that we’re rebuilding,” coach Derek Fisher said. ”But was Atlanta rebuilding last year when they didn’t have that quote-unquote player on their roster?”
”We want to win, so we didn’t go out and sign six rookies,” Fisher said. ”We signed quality veteran players because we’re trying to win right now.”
But just because the Knicks are trying to win now doesn’t mean they’re done rebuilding. Their roster from last year had an incredibly limited ceiling. That ceiling wasn’t going to change, so the Knicks had to change the team. They’re not rebuilding in a traditional sense, loading up with rookies and bottoming out for a high draft pick, but more in the mold of the Houston Rockets or Indiana Pacers: staying competitive in the present while maintaining future flexibility. That’s also similar to what the Atlanta Hawks did, though Fisher’s appraisal of that team is far off base, seeing as how they had four All-Stars last season.
There’s more than one way to rebuild. The Knicks couldn’t afford to tank, not when they owe so many of their first-round picks to other teams. Signing those “quality veteran players” was both a move towards improvement and remaking the team into something that can actually grow. They’re going to be more competitive this year, certainly in the mix for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. But what we’ll see on the court this year probably isn’t the finished product.