Today, Phil Jackson sent out an email as well as a video assuring Knick’s season ticket holders that he has a plan in place and asked for them to “remain optimistic” during the worst season, historically, in Knicks history. But can Knicks fans remain optimistic at this point? Let’s take a look at the moves of Phil Jackson this far as president of basketball operations.
Jackson traded Tyson Chandler for Jose Calderon because the guard understood and could run Jackson’s famous triangle offense. One of those players has revived his career somewhat and is thriving back where he won a championship. The other is a dud and is named Jose Calderon. The trade made sense at the time. Chandler was not doing to well in the Knick’s previous 32 win season and Calderon looked like a great option as a competent point guard in the new offense. But looking back at it, the trade was sort of short sighted. Calderon has never been an elite point while Chandler, when healthy, can be a force on the glass and can put up numbers scoring as well. Jackson seemed to have rushed a deal in order to have less of a transition period with his offense. Not a good look for someone who has a plan unless Jackson’s plan was to land one of the two most coveted centers in this years draft in Jail Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns.
After limping into the New Year, suffering both a losing streak of 10 and 16 games, Jackson shipped off offensive talent but locker room distraction J.R. Smith and threw on young defensive talent Iman Shumpurt. Both are playing very well for the LeBron-Kyrie-Love led Cavs in Cleveland. The Knicks only have two second round draft picks to show for the two. After recognizing that the Knicks will not be competitive, Jackson got rid of two players that were expendable but could have won the Knicks a few games here or there. A good move other than what Jackson got in return. Could Jackson not have flipped the two for a first rounder, or was accumulating more second round draft picks more of a priority. The Cavs, who have become on of the NBA’s best teams since the trade, will never have a high second round draft pick, so one has to wonder if Jackson rushed the trade again just to get rid of the players, or if he is looking to flip the second round picks for a late first round.
The Knicks currently have the worst record in the NBA at 14-60, the worst in the entire history of the franchise. The team can at worst end up with the 4th overall pick in this years draft, which is loaded with talent. Their star player, Carmelo Anthony, is set to return next year after having played very little all year. And Jackson is a proven winner, collecting 11 championships with two different teams as a coach and winning one championship as a player with the Knicks. So should Knicks fans panic? Not yet. It all depends on who the Knicks decide to take given the choice. The two most likely fits for the Knicks are the two centers mentioned above. But if Jackson truly does have a plan to turn this Knick’s roster into a winner, Towns is the best possible fit. Considered an option at stretch 4 or the 5, Towns has an impressive combination of shot blocking ability and offensive talent that can make the loss of Tyson Chandler seem more like a blessing. Also freeing up $25 million in cap space. Jackson will need to make some runs at free agents this summer to reach the playoffs in the 2015-2016 season. One player that seems like a natural fit in the triangle system is current Spurs player Marco Belinelli. He is a player that can take some pressure off of Carmelo and the paint by stretching the floor with his impressive three point shooting ability. The best part about Belinelli is he will not demand a large contract and Jackson can go out and get some bench help for the Knicks. Needless to say, it is no time for panic for Knicks fans. The Phil Jackson plan may lead this storied franchise to their first taste of glory since Phil himself suited up for the Knickerbockers.