As baseball gets underway, I would like to look at Phil Jackson first season in charge of his former team in a National past time perspective. Ok, the New York Knicks are in the process of their third rebuilding plan in five years.
After some moves backfired, team President Phil Jackson found himself tearing down the team, which he thought could compete for a playoff spot in the very weak eastern conference after hiring Derek Fisher. Now that the season is over, he is at bat again but this time he cannot strike out.
We laid down palms at his feet when the prodigal son came back home. Jackson was viewed as the Savior that was going lead the Knicks and their fan base back to the Promise Land. However, half way through his first year on the job, some folks around here were ready to nail him to the cross. We live in a microwave society where we want immediate results. It has not worked out that way for Phil thus far.
He resigned Harlem resident Carmelo Anthony to a max contract. Most applauded the move while others brought up the main flaw in Melo’s game.
He resigned Harlem resident Carmelo Anthony to a max contract. Most applauded the move while others brought up the main flaw in Melo’s game. Let’s be clear, he’s not LeBron James. Obviously, Jackson wants to build the team around Anthony’s talents although some think that the star forward is not a good fit for Jackson’s beloved Triangle offense. Some of Jackson’s detractors see this as strike number one.
Rumors have it that he felt that he had to get rid of Tyson Chandler because he and Melo did not get along and the center was too outspoken in terms of openly criticizing former head coach Mike Woodson. Jackson also did not want to subject new head coach Derek Fisher to that potential scrutiny. So Jackson packaged Chandler and Raymond Felton in a deal that brought Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert and Shane Larkin along with a couple of second round draft picks. Now some experts out there feel that he should have gotten at least a first round pick for the likes of Chandler but he dumped Felton’s contract and that was worth it. He snagged Cleathony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo, two freakishly gifted wing players with the draft picks. As far as I’m concern the jury is still out as far as this trade is concerned. So if I was the umpire calling this pitch, I would call it a ball. The count is now 1-1.
When he saw that this squad was going nowhere, Jackson unloaded JR Smith and Iman Shumpert for Lou Amundson and Lance Thomas, two players that showed promise throughout the season. I see this as a hit for Jackson. He got rid of two headaches and got two players that brought it every night along with high basketball IQs that fit the triangle offense.
Jackson also brought up guard Langston Galloway from their D-League team and he showed that he could contribute consistently. So he could be looked upon as another hit for Jackson.
You have Melo coming back from his knee surgery next year and the team has five-to-six players including Galloway, Tim Hardaway Jr., Thomas, Amundson, Jason Smith and Ricardo Ledo from this abysmal season that should be able to contribute.
Should Jackson get one of the top three players in the draft, the team should improve drastically from their 17-65 record. A Jahill Okafor, Karl Anthony-Towns or D’Angelo Russell would look good in Orange and Blue next season.
I’m not going to mention the fact Jackson has a boatload free agency money at his disposal. I just hope that he does not overpay for some of these unrestricted free agents that will be available this summer. If he can get a Greg Monroe at a reasonable price, that will another base hit for Brother Phil.
Jackson has a number of options going into this off-season. If he can land a nice free agent without over paying for him, get lucky in the draft and Melo can come back healthy, we should be in the thick of things. I also feel that Antetokounmpo, Larkin and/or Early will blossom as well. Therefore, this season will not be in vain. We just need Phil to get a few hits this summer! Right now he is fouling off three-two pitches.