The New York Knicks have been the most disappointing team in the NBA this year, sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference at 33-45. Last season the Knicks finished second in the East, winning 54 games and reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals before falling to Indiana. However, a lot has changed in one season. Mike Woodson is most likely on his way out at the end of the year whether the Knicks sneak into the playoffs or not, and Carmelo Anthony’s decision to test free agency at the end of the year has caused distractions for the team throughout the season.
New York Knicks owner James Dolan went out and brought in the great Phil Jackson to try and turn the Knicks back into a winning organization. Many see the signing of Jackson as a tactic to convince Carmelo Anthony to stay in New York, but is Anthony staying the best decision for the future? Yes, Carmelo Anthony is in the prime of his career and has had a fantastic season to follow up on his NBA scoring title last year. Anthony is averaging 27.5 points per game and is averaging a career-high in rebounds per game with 8.2. His 40.4 three-point shooting percentage is the second-highest in his career and he is playing 38 minutes a night (another career-high). But if he opts to take his talents elsewhere, the Knicks may be better off.
If Anthony returns to the Big Apple, the team won’t be much different next season. Amar’e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler are all back next year, along with J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton. This leaves the Knicks with almost zero cap space and they are without a pick in the upcoming NBA Draft this summer. Anthony knows he won’t be winning a title with the same roster he currently has to play with, making next season look hopeless already. Anthony would have to wait until the 2015-2016 season to be paired up with another superstar in order to have a chance to win an NBA title.
If Anthony leaves and signs elsewhere, Phil Jackson will have to wait just one season to have a clean slate where he can then rebuild the culture of the organization. Stoudemire, Bargnani and Chandler will all be free agents in 2015 and Felton and Smith will have player options in 2015. Although I am against tanking the season if Anthony doesn’t return, it seems like the best move for the organization. The Knicks can tank the season to get a high draft pick, trade away some of the players listed above and convince Felton and Smith to opt out because they are not a part of the future.
The New York Knicks would then be in a great position to rebuild the team with some young rising stars. Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. would be the only two remaining players on the Knicks roster at the start of the 2015 free agency period, leaving the Knicks with a ton of cap space. The Knicks would then have enough money to go after some big names in free agency.
Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge are both free agents in the summer of 2015 and the Knicks could use a big man to replace Chandler down low. Kyrie Irving, Rajon Rondo and Kemba Walker are free agents in 2015 as well and the Knicks desperately need a point guard. If Phil Jackson can lure Love away from the West Coast and bring Irving close to his home in New Jersey, the Knicks would have one of the best young combinations in the league. Love (25 years old) and Irving (22) would leave the Knicks with a bright future and make the Knicks an immediate title contender.
The Knicks can add some players around the two as well. Other free agents in 2015 that could be on the Knicks radar include:
The Knicks tanking next year would probably leave them with a lottery pick. A struggling and pathetic Knicks team would probably result in the Knicks getting a top-5 pick. If you haven’t noticed, *runs away and hides* the NBA Draft Lottery is rigged. (Bulls with the worst chances to get first pick end up getting the first pick to draft Derrick Rose. Cavaliers, the year LeBron James leaves, get the first pick for Kyrie Irving. Stern finds someone to buy the New Orleans Pelicans and rewards them with the first pick for Anthony Davis). Therefore, I would be willing to guess the Knicks get rewarded just like the other franchises did now that Anthony had left. Next year’s draft looks like it will be full of talent and if Jabari Parker returns to school, he will be the top prospect in the 2015 NBA Draft. If the Knicks can grab Parker or even another top prospect to go along with Irving and Love, they could be the team to beat in the East.
With that being said, the Knickerbockers will need a new head coach to get the best out of the new young roster Phil Jackson put together. Yet Phil Jackson might be the best person for the job. Jackson is an 11-time NBA champion head coach, winning six with the Chicago Bulls and five with the Los Angeles Lakers. He is a genius and is one of the best in all of sports at managing egos. He worked with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman with the Bulls and got them to mesh together. He also managed to get Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal on the same page early in his time with the Lakers before the two had a falling out. Jackson is perfect to handle the New York media. He is outspoken and states his opinion no matter the situation. He motivates his players and keeps the team calm and poised in times of distress.
Jackson is entering his first job ever as a front office official. He will look to bring in players who possess the same characteristics as him, players and coaches who want to win and will buy into his philosophy. But Jackson might have to step down from the press box and back onto the court. Pat Riley changed the culture in Miami in 2006 and decided to coach the team, leading them to an NBA title. Gregg Popovich became a part of the San Antonio Spurs front office in 1994, bringing in players that could create a winning culture in the locker room. Pop then named himself head coach in 1999 and has won four championships, never failing to make the playoffs as a coach. For Jackson, the same opportunity is there. He can rebuild the team the way he wants, bring in the players that best fit his system and then become the head coach. As a head coach, Jackson maxes out the potential of his players and knows how to manage personalities on the court. He gets his teams to believe in one common goal and that is winning.
Phil Jackson has a big chance to change the face of the New York Knicks. The Knicks have not won a title since 1973. Now with Jackson on board and Carmelo Anthony possibly on his way out, the Knicks might be in the best position they’ve been in over a decade. However, it may take Jackson making a return to coaching to fully implement his winning formula with the Knicks.
What should the Knicks do?
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