Striking a deal to land Derek Rose while maintaining flexibility was a home run, but New York Knicks boss Phil Jackson owes the fans more.
From 17 wins in 2014-15, to 32 wins in 2015-16, Phil Jackon’s regime as boss of the New York Knicks has been anything but spectacular.
Considering he took over a 37 win team makes the feeling of Jax’s failures even more pronounced and depressing.
As hardened fans who still remember the good old days of Patrick Ewing, John Starks and Anthony Mason, we wanted clueless James Dolan to hire a basketball man and get the hell out of the way. He did so. So now, as fans, we owe Jackson a good amount of time to build a team the right way, his way.
Make no mistake, though, Phil Jackson owes us more.
Acquiring former NBA MVP Derrick Rose is phenomenal beyond belief. His current one-year status mixed with the fact the Knicks haven’t hurt their salary cap situation equals a low-risk gamble worth taking.
The drafting of Kristaps Porzingis in the No. 4 hole during the 2015 NBA Draft was a bold act that has turned into gold. Not only is the kid dripping of talent from head to toe – in a gazelle-like body with grace and ability to boot – but he’s a coaches dream; a professional youngster who just “gets it.”
KP can be everything Knicks fans have ever wanted in a franchise player.
It’s still not enough.
KP is great and Rose can be worth every penny, but Phil Jackson hasn’t showed his true worth yet.
In March of 2014, Jackson signed a five year deal worth $60 million, a cool $12 million annually. He spoke about “changing the culture” around the organization. His first moves were ridding the locker room of players that cared more about other aspects to their career that seemed to take priority over the team – i.e. Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith.
Jackson cleaned house. Nobody can ever argue this wasn’t the right move.
Now, as Jax enters year three,it’s action time.
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Dolan and the Knicks could’ve paid anybody to be a general manager residing over a regime that decided to clean house and trade for an oft-injured D-Rose. Jackson is receiving $12 million a year for his stature – for those 13 NBA Championship rings he can plop on the table when meeting with star free agents.
Aldridge didn’t hit a season ago. Hell, Greg Monroe didn’t even take the bait during the summer of 2015.
Like Jackson said on the very first day, though, he came here to “change the culture.” This wasn’t something that would happen overnight. Most educated fans understand this notion.
The drafting of Porzingis was truly the first cornerstone step during the Jackson regime. Re-signing Carmelo Anthony can be debated realistically on either side. As a 32-year old aging scorer, the presence of Melo is tough. It creates a sense of a strange half-building process. Melo wants to win now while Phil wants to do the right thing for the future.
In any event, Anthony is the Knicks leader and Porzingis is its future. Rose is now the wildcard. With $37.7 million in cap space available, the future looks bright.
Perhaps free agents will suddenly flock to The Garden to play with a possible once in a generation talent like KP. Maybe these big names still love the idea of playing with a D-Rose on his walk-year.
Jackson is building it right. Make no mistake about it. At the same time, he still owes us, the die hard Knicks fan, much more.
He owes us a winning campaign in 2016-17 and a tradition of winners for many years to follow.
We’re already short tempered thanks to the rebuff of the most talented available head coaching candidate in quite some time (Tom Thibodeau). We’re already quick to judgement thanks to the mortal failure that was Derek Fisher. We’re already fuming over the idea that both Shumpert and J.R. are now NBA Champions (albeit completely thanks to LeBron James).
Any general manager could take the Knicks from 37 wins to 17, and then 32. Any GM could clean house and inject his firm beliefs and principles throughout the entire organization, even on the court when it’s not completely necessary.
Jackson was brought here for much bigger things.
The fact Kurt Rambis will still be on the staff under Jeff Hornacek is troubling. NBA bosses never force a complete system upon their head coach. They usually pick the players and allow their appointed head man to run the show.
That’ll always be troubling to the Knicks fan.
The only way these troubles will go away is if a Durant signs on the dotted line come early July – or at least a nice package such as a Pau Gasol and Nicolas Batum. The only way Jackson has finally fulfilled his promise to New Yorkers is if he truly builds something special. Not just special, something that actually sticks to the fabric of city society.
As fans, we owe the man time. Two years isn’t even close to enough time to be so quick to judge.
Don’t be confused though, he does owe us more. Even during those times as the enemy, he felt so close to us:
Let’s see if Phil Jackson’s full-circle NBA life takes complete form. This summer will mean everything.