Knicks president failing fan base
New York Knicks president Phil Jackson left no room for confusion back in September.
"We believe that we're going to be a playoff team and then we don't know how far we'll be able to go," the “Zen Master” proclaimed.
Now, nearly four months later, Jackson’s Knicks are thinking about anything but the postseason. With a shameful 5-35 record the team is the worst in the NBA. They even trail the Philadelphia 76ers, a squad whose mission was to tank since Opening Day in October.
At this point in the season it is clear that Jackson wants his Knicks to follow Philly’s lead. New York’s roster is a barren wasteland in regards to talent outside of a fragile Amar'e Stoudemire and a banged up Carmelo Anthony.
Jackson wants the Knicks to lose and perhaps that is the best course of action.
With the way the 2014-15 season is going the Knicks are a lock to land a top-five draft pick in what is a very deep and talented upcoming rookie class. They cannot afford to miss out on a big-time prospect like Jahlil Okafor or Emmanuel Mudiay.
Despite the fact that the Knicks are better off losing now, it remains clear that was certainly not Jackson’s plan from the start. He made moves that he believed would take a 37-win team that missed the playoffs last year and at the very least turn them into an eight seed in a not-so-talented Eastern Conference.
Those moves included hiring head coach Derek Fisher, shipping out Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton for a package centered around Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert, drafting Cleanthony Early and of course the Cavs’ trade that yielded next to nothing for two players with skill sets Cleveland badly needed in J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. Fisher looks lost, Early has played in just 13 games due to injuries, Calderon has been a disappointment and Dalembert is not even a member of the team anymore. Meanwhile, Chandler is averaging a double-double per game for the Dallas Mavericks.
Jackson got hustled on that one.
On the bright side, the Knicks will have just under $30 million in cap space come free agency thanks to these moves and a handful of expiring contracts. The question is does anyone actually want to come to New York?
While Madison Square Garden is still referred to as the Mecca of Basketball, it has been a long time since those words carried any weight. Jackson thinks he will be able to flash all of his championship rings and hype up New York’s market to lure players in, but chances are free agents like LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol and Rajon Rondo will stay put in Portland, Memphis and Dallas.
A lot of people put a lot of trust in Phil Jackson, but so far he has done little to earn it. No one expected the Knicks to win a title this year, but they also were not supposed to finish dead last. Right now, it is hard to predict exactly what Jackson’s plan is for the future.
Right now, the question is if the 13-time champion even has one.
Gary Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @GPhillips2727.