When the Knicks hired Phil Jackson to run their basketball operations in 2014, the thought was there was hope for this troubled franchise based on what he accomplished as a NBA player and coach.
Fast forward to 37 months later, the Knicks are worse than ever before. This is even worse than the failed Isiah Thomas era. Under Jackson, they lost 166 games and missed the playoffs for three straight full seasons. What’s worse is they are unwatchable and unlikeable. The damning thing about them is there is still distrust and paranoia that permeate within the organization, which is his job to change all that.
What hope is there for the Knicks under the Zen Master? He struck out with his two coaches in Derek Fisher and Kurt Rambis, and Jeff Hornacek’s coaching performance was not encouraging this season. Outside of Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez, he has not drafted well with Cleanthony Early, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Jerian Grant being a bust. His free agent signings such as Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Arron Afflalo turned out to be a bust, and his trades for Derrick Rose, Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin, Robin Lopez and Samuel Dalembert have not produced positive results.
The Knicks boss said the team is rebuilding again in his state of the Knicks presser Friday afternoon. What makes anyone think he can get it right after failing to build the team the last three seasons?
It’s bad enough Jackson lost credibility with the Knicks fans and the New York media long time ago. What’s troubling is he lost his players such as Carmelo Anthony, Rose and Porzingis, who skipped an exit meeting with the Knicks management team. That should be a red flag for incompetent Knicks owner James Dolan.
The former Bulls and Lakers coach can cite his 13 championship rings (playing and coaching combined) all he wants, but coaching and building a team are two different things. It’s also easy to win 11 rings as coach with best players such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
Jackson claimed the Knicks have stunk under his watch because the players have not brought into the triangle offense. That is such a convenient excuse. Even if that’s the case, it does not make sense since it’s on him to find the right players to play that offense. He should have known better than to find guys who were not a fit. For example, Rose is a pick-and-roll player, which is not conducive to Jackson’s triangle.
He also has done a terrible job of finding players that can play defense. In the Knicks roster he built in the last three full seasons, none of his Knicks players play defense. The next defensive player he gets is his first.
It’s easy to blame Anthony for the problems the Knicks have had in recent years, but that’s an example of covering up Jackson’s sins as an architect of the team. Even if the Knicks trade their star, it’s hard to believe it will get better based on the Big Chief Triangle’s awful track record as an executive.
Also, good luck to Jackson trading his star player, who has bad knees, not to mention his best days are likely behind him. There’s also this no-trade clause to deal with. It’s hard to believe he wants to be traded since he loves the lifestyle of living in New York.
This could be one ugly mess. It could get much worse before it gets better.
Only thing that would make a four-ring circus at Madison Square Garden is if the Knicks win the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery and draft Lonzo Ball as the No. 1 pick. Lavar Ball (Lonzo’s egotistical father), Dolan, Anthony and Jackson will do a better job of filling the void that is going to be left behind from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Jackson’s only $12 million value to this Knicks franchise is he is shielding Dolan from criticism. That’s the only reason the MSG chairman has not criticized him publicly and privately. That’s also why he won’t be fired. If he is fired, then Dolan would have to deal with being the brunt of criticism again, and he is not interested in revisiting that.
Forget Jackson quitting, either. He wants the money, which is why he is staying. Plus, he wants to show everyone the triangle offense can work, so he can eventually brag to his critics.
The silver lining is he has two more years to go in his contract. By then, Dolan and him will likely part ways.
To that, we say thanks. Until then, tick tock tick tock.