New York Knicks president Phil Jackson has opened up the 2015 NBA Free Agency rumor period with a bang. Will it be too much of a bang?
By Robby Sabo
Since the great Phil Jackson assumed basketball operations for the New York Knicks over a full calendar year ago, his reign has come in steps.
First came the business of handling Carmelo Anthony’s free agency. Then, attention turned to the necessary act of shedding dead weight and tanking.
Finally, Jackson’s true test has come: the 2015 NBA offseason.
He made Kristaps Porzingis the happiest Latvian in all the land by selecting him with the No. 4 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Now, free agency will either make or break Jackson’s rule over the Knicks.
Knicks fans are feeling their way through two very real emotions at this very moment.
One comes in the form of excitement. For the first time since the summer of LeBron James in 2010, New York heads into an offseason free of salary and filled with hope.
The number of free-agents that summer were overwhelming and Donnie Walsh and the Knicks had their shopping bags ready to go. While they ultimately wound up shopping at Wal-Mart (Amar’e Stoudemire) instead of Zales (LeBron), they did, indeed, begin a new era that summer.
2015 brings that same exciting feeling.
On the other hand, the other emotion Knicks fans are currently suffering through is fear.
Dark, dark fear and utter panic. This, due to the horrid contract Stoudemire ultimately brought to this franchise after a stellar first-season.
ESPN has reported that Jackson and the rest of the Knicks leadership group will head to Los Angeles this week to meet with both Jordan and LaMarcus Aldridge.
All three-guys are bigs, which is a necessity for this team to acquire. Most would argue – with the roster the way it’s shaped right now – a center is the No. 1 priority.
The problem here lies in the open market.
While Aldridge is a very deserving (and I’d be the first volunteer to pick the guy up at the airport), neither Monroe nor Jordan are max-contract guys, and if the Knicks sign either of them to a max deal they’ll regret it for a very long time running.
Monroe is a nice player. He’s an offensive-minded 6’11” 253 lbs. body who can bang with the best of them. While he lacks a little on the defensive end, he can score (1.59 PPG in 2014-15) and pound the glass (10.2 RPG in 2014-15).
The 25-year old who spent his first five seasons in Detroit also seems to be a perfect fit for the triangle-offense.
There are serious questions about Monroe’s want-to and drive. Is he a guy that’ll work on his craft to a point that is deserving of such superstar status? The problem many basketball bosses face these days is one that deals with handing out money in wrong places, purely due to what’s on the market at that current time.
Regardless, Jackson has thought Monroe is a perfect fit for a long time now.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported that Monroe to the Knicks was as “good as done” as far back as April.
— NY Daily News Sports (@NYDNSports) April 11, 2015
Should Jackson hand out a max-contract to a guy like Monroe, he better develop into a superstar.
Just like Jordan – who’s a butcher on the offensive end – Monroe is well below deserving of a max-deal. The franchise, while would look better right now, would suffer the same downtrodden fate they did once Stoudemire’s Knicks career progressed.
Admittedly, it’s tough to reel in a superstar like Aldridge. However, why must all the cap money be spend during the summer of 2015? There is also the summer of 2016. There is, in fact, a tomorrow for this franchise.
On the surface, the drafting of Porzingis signaled a new era for the Knicks. It revealed that picking the right player is on a higher-priority than taking the “now-guy” to appease Melo.
Hopefully, Jackson’s approach during the draft carries over to free-agency.
Yes, sign a few players, but please, don’t spend the wrong way. It takes time to turn around a franchise, not money.
If Jackson does hand a max-deal to either Monroe or Jordan, that tomorrow for the Knicks will become infinitely tougher to deal with.
Let’s see that Zen-Master magic. Snag one of these guys below the max-contract level. That’s something Knicks fans can wrap their heads around.
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