In Phil Jackson‘s first year as the New York Knicks team president, he has quite the job cut out for him.
His first couple of moves could be what defines him in his tenure with the Knicks as they will have a significant impact on the future of the franchise. Hiring Derek Fisher is a solid start as Phil now has a young coach who he can groom and help install the system that has led to much of Jackson’s success: the triangle offense.
Now comes the most important part of the Knicks’ offseason; will they re-sign Carmelo Anthony, and if they do, for how much?
Let’s assume Melo opts out of his contract and doesn’t re-sign with the Knicks. Instead, he decides to sign with the Chicago Bulls to play alongside former MVP Derrick Rose and All NBA Joakim Noah. There are two possible outcomes: Chicago signs Melo outright with limited funds, or Melo decides he wants more money than the Bulls can offer so they work a sign and trade with the Knicks.
Obviously, the Knicks would prefer receiving some sort of compensation for losing Melo, but we’ll assume the worst and say he signs without a sign and trade. Losing Melo leaves the Knicks without their best player, a face of the franchise, and most likely a very bad team. In Jackson’s first year as team president, he now has an offense built around J.R. Smith, which is destined for disaster, or Amar’e Stoudemire, which always rests on his health.
What’s the most sensible solution to this mess? Blow it up.
I know it is easier said than done, but if I’m Jackson, I find a way to blow up this Melo-less Knick roster and start from scratch. There is no way they are a championship contender with that roster so why waste a season pretending to be? Outside of Melo, the Knicks have three big expiring contracts at the end of next year: Tyson Chandler ($14.5 million), Amar’e Stoudemire ($23.4 million), and Andrea Bargnani ($12 million). That’s a lot of money coming off the books and not a lot of talent.
Ideally, the Knicks can trade Chandler to a championship contender who is a player away. He is good enough defensively to impact a good team, however he is practically useless on a bad team. There were rumblings this week of the Warriors making a play for him, which was one of the more absurd rumors I’ve ever seen. There is virtually no chance either team makes that deal so let’s scrap that one.
The three expiring deals need to be used to prepare for the future. If there is a chance to dump them and acquire picks, absolutely pull the trigger. I have a hard time seeing Bargnani being targeted by any team so any return on him would be nice. Iman Shumpert is always in trade rumors; at this point, he is expendable as well if it means dumping the dreadful Raymond Felton and acquiring a pick. We all love Shumpert’s defense, but his offensive game has yet to develop and you have to give something to get something in trades.
Since the Knicks mantra for the past decade has been “who needs draft picks,” they have been so poorly set up for the future. The objective should be to rebuild through the draft and hopefully sign players in 2015 or 2016 (Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, and Rajon Rondo to name a few). At the end of the day, no one on roster is untouchable (except Tim Hardaway Jr., I can’t see the Knicks trading him). Jackson was brought in to build his team, not win with someone else’s players. There shouldn’t be any random allegiances to players on roster, and if Phil doesn’t want Melo, don’t re-sign him.
I would rather see the Knicks be the worst team in the NBA next season and hopefully have the number one pick, than watch them be a first round knockout and trade for aging players with bad contracts to do it.
Enough of striving for mediocrity; blow this thing up and prepare to build a new team with an actual plan.
One more thing; James Dolan needs to swallow his pride and watch his team struggle in order to see his team win in the future.