Phil Jackson’s first test as boss of the New York Knicks was the dealing with free agent Carmelo Anthony. His decision is now killing them.
By Robby Sabo
Is there any baller on the face of the Earth that actually wants to play with Carmelo Anthony?
With the news of former Detroit Pistons big-man Greg Monroe spurning the New York Knicks for the upstart Milwaukee Bucks, the familiar theme of free agents saying “thanks, but no thanks” to the leadership group of the Knicks continues to play out.
Mind you, Monroe is a guy who the entire league had pegged going to New York as early as April. Frank Isola of New York Daily News even went as far to report it as a “done deal.”
That cache we all thought Phil Jackson still possessed upon his triumphant arrival to The Garden last spring seems to have been overrated. Cache is one thing, but Jackson making the most crucial mistake during his first real big test as boss is another.
Jackson’s signing of Anthony to that 5-year, $124 million deal last summer is now crippling New York’s future.
Not only was this deal a slap in the face to all sensible people (as they tried to proclaim Anthony did, indeed, take $5 million less than the max), it has now screwed up the organizational philosophy that this team currently deploys.
There’s no secrets here, the Knicks stink. They tanked the 2014-15 season to a tune of 17-wins in hopes to win the NBA Lottery.
It failed. Picking No. 4 was far less than a team of this awfulness deserved.
Nevertheless, the Knicks fall into that classic franchise plan of rebuilding. Not only do they need to find cornerstone players, but they were never equipped with solid assets that would allow immediate success.
Phil signing Melo to that deal last summer sent the message to not only Anthony himself, but all the basketball world that the Knicks are still a “now” team.
There’s only one problem with that in this NBA: it’s impossible to try to win now and rebuild for the future at the same time.
Anthony is 31-years old playing on a bum knee. How could Jackson actually think he’ll still be a solid player in two years when Kristaps Porzingis is finally coming into his own?
He cannot think that’s possible.
Adding insult onto embarrassment, if there was one shred of positive that would come with signing Carmelo, it would be the hope that he could attract free agents to New York.
Obviously, it’s become apparent that nobody wants to play with him. What’s wrong guys? A 31-year old banged up dude who doesn’t make anybody around him better isn’t appealing to you? 17-wins a season ago doesn’t tickle your fancy?
Without Anthony on the roster, Jackson would actually be afforded to bide his time if he missed out on a few key free agents. He could head into the year with another terrible team, plenty of flexibility and eyeing for a free agency frenzy in 2016.
Sure, the problem here lies in the Knicks not having their first-rounder in 2016 – which was exchanged for the immortal Andrea Bargnani – but still, the slow approach still beats throwing out undeserved dollars to unworthy max-contract guys.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 2, 2015
The Knicks obviously now have a hard time taking that slow approach will Melo in tow, who’s hoping for a solid team to win that elusive NBA championship.
Signing Melo instead of turning a new leaf for an organization who needed one will be the most crucial mistake Jackson made as boss.
When Jackson proclaimed to Knicks fans that he’d only bring Melo back if he took “significantly” less in hopes to build a better team around him, he should’ve let him walk the moment both sides were in discussion to build that hilarious “save $5 million” deal.
If anybody was “hoodwinked” in that situation, it was Knicks fans.
What we have now is a general manager and a player who believe fans are idiots (as surely $5 less than the max is saving money). They believe we all actually buy that things will get better. And last but not least, they believe we think Carmelo Anthony is a superstar player and Phil Jackson knows what he’s doing in the front office.
Folks, these are your New York Knicks: working on the here and now while building for the future all at the same time.
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