Forget Jimmer Fredette, it’s the fact that “change” is actually taking place with the New York Knicks that should have fans excited.
At that time – despite the starving Kickerbockers’ fans suddenly finding themselves in a basketball sort of heaven – there were many questions, with very few answers.
One question was obvious: Does Phil Jackson even know how to pick personnel?
Though the man had won 11 NBA championships, he was the benefactor of coaching some of the greatest teams of all-time. If the names Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Scottie Pippen, and Kobe Bryant don’t scream greatness, then no names will.
Most figured the man was so drenched in basketball greatness that he’d mold his own way.
The real question was whether or not Jackson truly wanted the job.
The many complications experienced in Los Angeles is the only reason Phil ended up with Jim Dolan in New York. He took the job and the title, but would he take it seriously. Would he actually roll up his sleeves and get the dirty work done?
Honestly, we still don’t know. What we do know, however, is the change we’ve seen take place during this 2015-16 Knicks campaign is a positive, not a negative.
Nearing his 70th birthday, many thought Jackson was simply viewing this job as a comfy $10 million a year retirement position. Knowing Derek Fisher has been abruptly replaced and personnel changes seem to be coming fast, fans should once again cling on to hope.
Not hope in the idea of the Knicks making a championship run, but hope in the realization that Phil is, indeed, all-in on turning and leaving this organization in good shape.
Make no mistake about it, this squad wasn’t fully equipped heading into the season. Arron Afflalo, Kyle O’Quinn, and a hefty price-tag for Robin Lopez weren’t what the Knick fan was looking for. Actually, if it hadn’t been for the stunning show of Kristaps Porzingis, Jackson’s two-year reign would be looked upon as a brutal failure.
The team was so subpar heading into the season that, despite Carmelo Anthony playing the best team-ball of his life and being “all ears” on the way Phil wanted him to transform his game, they remain nine-games under .500 nearing the end of February.
This is where the story is truly being told. Instead of Jackson sitting back and relaxing through the rest of a miserable, playoff-less season, he took action. While the Fisher firing hasn’t changed much, personnel changes are coming.
Finally, it’s Jimmer-Time.
Don’t fooled, please. Jimmer Fredette is not the savior of the Knicks. He won’t come in with a “Linsanity” type momentum and he won’t turn a squad who is dead last in transition points and points off turnovers into the Showtime Lakers.
He’s just a guy who might be able to improve the squad.
Despite not having the personnel readily available, Jackson is looking for ways to change the fortunes of the squad.
Let’s face the absolute truth for a moment. This truth that haunts us all every time the Knicks take the floor. 34-year old Jose Calderon cripples the Knicks.
It’s not Calderon’s fault. At this point in the Spaniard’s career, he is what he is. He can still shoot the ball, now close to the 40 percent mark from downtown. He can still facilitate a professional offense.
For those positives though, come negatives that don’t allow the Knicks to compete.
The guy simply can’t move anymore. Anytime New York squares off against a legitimate point guard, the defense has a long night. Whether it’s Ricky Rubio, John Wall, or even the newly identified Ish Smith of the Philadelphia 76ers, that guy completely destroys the Knicks perimeter defense and penetrates at will.
The opposing point guard crushes the Knicks defensive integrity every night. And this hurts knowing Lopez and Porzingis are a fantastic duo to have protecting the rim.
Jackson signing Fredette is exactly what the doctor ordered – despite it coming about 50 games too late in Calderon’s case (Knicks overall record is 23-32).
No, it won’t save the franchise, but it’s a step in the right direction. We can now believe Jackson has his finger on the pulse of the team.
Is it true? Well, much like everything else during Phil’s Knicks regime, only time will tell.