Phil Jackson and Knicks Look to Next Year

As the Knicks dismal season finally closes the team cannot be feeling any worse.  They missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010, they could potentially lose their star player in free agency, and once again they have plenty of horrible contracts locking down all their team’s salary cap space.

The one bright spot for the team is the recent hiring of Phil Jackson as Knicks President. All eyes are on Jackson as to where this team is going.  His off-season will be filled with the following decisions that will make or break the future of the New York Knicks.

Melo: Free Agent or New York Knick?

Carmelo AnthonyWithout a doubt, the greatest crucible of Jackson as an executive is how he chooses to handle Carmelo Anthony. At this point in his Knicks career, Anthony has proven himself as an individual NBA superstar talent. Despite the horrid play of the Knicks this year, Anthony has still managed to average over 27 points per game, along with over 8 rebounds per game as well.

Despite his savior role on the team, questions linger at this critical point for the team.

The primary question that has fans buzzing is whether or not Anthony will stay with the Knicks or look for another team where he’s more likely to bring home a title.

Anthony started his basketball career as a winner by leading Syracuse to their first NCAA title.


Carmelo Anthony Syracuse

However, his winning ways failed to translate to the NBA. Every year back in Denver, Anthony just couldn’t bring the Nuggets all the way, and with the Knicks he hasn’t exactly done any better.

Carmelo Anthony Denver Nuggets

Nowadays, things are even worse, he just finished his first losing (record) season of his career.

As Anthony enters into free agency this summer Phil Jackson will look beyond his superstar status and try to make the best decision for their team. After all the Knicks want a winner and some question whether Anthony truly fits that title.

The Knicks want a winner and some question whether Anthony truly fits that title.

A common belief is that Melo can’t win because of how bad the rest of the Knicks are. Unfortunately, due to the Knicks salary cap constraints it doesn’t look as if they’ll be able to put any star talent around Anthony anytime soon.

The Knick’s salary cap is really a mess, and a large part of that is due to the often injured Amare Stoudemire. Despite his status as one of the highest paid players in the league, Stoudemire is averaging just 11.4 points per game with an average of 21.6 minutes played. Despite this, Stoudemire is paid $500,000 more a year than Anthony.

Amare Stoudemire

Stoudemire is paid $500,000 more a year than Anthony.

In a report for the New York Daily News, Frank Isola writes

The Knicks’ salary-cap situation is such that if they re-sign Anthony they’ll have to wait until 2015 to add that second star. For one, I’m hearing that Anthony’s camp is interested only in the summer of 2014. They don’t want to hear about 2015. And they’re right. Anthony will be 31 with a lot of NBA miles on his legs before reinforcements arrive.

The world watches as Jackson figures out a plan.

Does Jackson want Anthony in the first place?

Carmelo Anthony Arguing a Call

Nobody would go so far as to doubt Anthony’s talent, but Jackson is known for his reliance on team players. Anthony, 30, is past the NBA’s average age.

Is Jackson going to try to teach an old dog new tricks? Or will he not even bother with Anthony to make room in the salary cap for new talent?

At the press conference announcing his presidency, Jackson said the following about Anthony:

“He showed in the last Olympics, coming off the bench, playing a role as a bench player on a magnificent team that won a gold medal, that he can play a role if he has to play a role.”

Jackson could have been implying a strategy of teaching Anthony to revert to the team basketball he played in the Olympics. Whether or not Jackson can get Anthony to play within a team concept is another story. As mentioned before, for Anthony to even be able to play good team basketball he needs smart reliable teammates. Impossible or not, the Knicks will need to get Anthony more help from teammates if they even want him to consider staying.

New York Knicks

The Knicks will need to get Anthony more help from teammates if they even want him to consider staying.

As of now the Knicks are from from having quality teammates. Jackson will have a lot of cleaning up to do in order to attract some classy, and reliable players.

Taking out the trash:

Unfortunately for the Knicks two of their key players have awful behavior problems. Here’s a look at some of their infamous acts:

Enter JR Smith. It started with two car accidents, the second one being fatal, and a charge of vehicular manslaughter. After several more speeding tickets, it was him Tweeting in a style of replacing C’s with K’s, a usage frequented by the Blood street gang.  His Twitter was deleted after the incident, but awakened only to lead to another scandal and find after making lewd comments about his girlfriend’s body interrupting his view of the television.

JR Smith

This guy just can’t keep his nose clean, and as they say, one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.

Unfortunately, Smith is not the only bad apple.

Smith has a teammate who flies by night as his Partner in crime, Raymond Felton.

JR Smith and Raymond Felton

In late February, Felton was charged with one count of criminal possession of a firearm and another count of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree after his estranged wife turned him into the authorities.

If a rising tide lifts all boats, then these two are draining the entire ocean.

As president, Jackson needs to figure out a way to clean up the Knicks’ image. It’s easy to feel let down by seeing your team lose. It’s even easier to feel let down seeing your team lose while its players spend half their time in court, meeting with their lawyer, or even in jail.

Only time will tell if and how Jackson decides to deal with these jokers and change the poor image they have smeared the Knicks with.

The Zen Master never disappointed in Chicago and LA, winning multiple titles. However, solving all these Knick problems should be harder than anything Jackson has ever faced in his career. Knicks fan are hoping  and praying that he can succeed in NY as well and return their team back to prominence.


Jason Collins: Paving a New Direction For Sports

Jason Collins broke new ground in his first game back in the NBA. Playing 10 minutes and 37 seconds for the Brooklyn Nets made him the first openly gay athlete to play in one of the four major professional sports.

Collins, 35, recently signed for the remainder of the season by the nets to help fill the enormous gap created by the injured Net Brook Lopez.

Fellow players have been extremely receptive to him as a teammate. Former teammate of Collins’ Paul Pierce said to USA Today:

“He is a guy that is going to be able to open up the door for athletes around the world.”

Teammate Deron Williams spoke to in support of Collins. He said:

“It’s definitely historic for him to come out and play, the first openly gay athlete to play in a major sport. It’s definitely a big deal.”

But it’s not just the players who are supporting Collins. According to a CNN article, NBA Senior Vice President Vicky Picca said that Collins’ No. 98 Nets jersey was recently the top-seller on

As historic as his first game was, Collins’ stats were meek in comparison; he scored no points, and finished with two rebounds and five fouls.

Regardless of his personal performance, the Nets won and Collins responded in a tweet with joy and gratitude:

While his performance on the Basketball court won’t exactly dazzle fans, his bravery off the court is what truly makes him special. This statement comes at pivotal time for gay rights in the sport: Russia is still being largely criticized for its intolerance toward gay athletes, Michael Sam is out of the closet making him the first openly gay player to enter the NFL Draft, and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer recently vetoed a controversial bill that would have allowed businesses to deny service to gay customers on the basis of their religious beliefs.

Collins officially came out in an autobiographical article first published in Sports Illustrated. Collins famously said:

“I’m a 34-year-old NBA Center. I’m Black. And I’m gay.”

The tear-jerking article tells Collins’ tale of identity confusion, and the things that inspired his brave confession.

“The relief I felt was a sweet release,” Collin says. “Imagine you’re in the oven, baking. Some of us know and accept our sexuality right away and some need more time to cook. I should know – I baked for 33 years.”

Hopefully Collin’s bravery will help pave the way for gay athletes worldwide to feel comfortable with themselves and their sexuality.

All About Point Guards???

Many around the league believe that having a great point guard is the key ingredient to being successful in today’s NBA. Even Lebron James seems to think this new philosophy is true. James was quoted saying the following about the modern day point guard position:

“This is transforming into a point guard league”

“If you just look at it, if you have a really, really good point guard you got a chance to win.

“And it’s almost like having a really good quarterback in the NFL. If you got a really good quarterback in the NFL, you got a really good chance to win. So it’s good that this league has great point guards.”

While Lebron and other’s opinions should be respected, we can’t ignore the facts about the 12 teams who made it to the NBA finals in the last 6 years. If we look closely at the core of these teams, we can see that today’s modern day NBA isn’t exactly a “point guards league”.

2008-2010 Los Angeles Lakers: 2 Championships and 3 Final Appearances

Key Offensive Strengths: Triangle Offense, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum

Starting Point Guard: Derek Fisher

Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant

These Laker teams were led in scoring by a dominant Kobe Bryant at his prime who almost pushed the Lakers to a second 3-peat. While Kobe led the Lakers in scoring he wasn’t exactly the reason for their offensive talent. The true leader of the Lakers offense was their coach; the “Zen Master” Phil Jackson. Jackson had the Lakers running his famous “Triangle” offense that was originally built for his Dynasty Bulls teams of the 90’s and their sub-talented PG’s like B.J Armstrong, and later Ron Harper. So too Jackson used the Triangle offense for Lakers Point guard Derek Fisher (average point guard) to successfully run these teams too.

2008, and 2010 Boston Celtics: 1 Championship, 2 Finals Appearances

Key Offensive Strengths: Unselfishness, Boston Big 3- Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen

Starting Point Guard: “Still Young and Raw” Rajon Rando

Celtic Big 3

When the Boston Big 3 came together for the 2008 season there were doubts about exactly how far they could go without any time playing together. Doc Rivers preached unselfishness to his stars and got them to have a balanced offensive attack that led them to win a championship in just their first year together. It is important to point out, that Rondo was not the elite PG he is now. In the 2008 finals he shot just 37% from the field and averaged under 7 assists. Part of the Lakers defensive strategy was to leave Rondo completely open (YES- Rondo was that horrible offensively).

In 2010 Rondo was a much improved player but was still not yet the elite player we see today.

These two Celtics teams were really led by the big 3 and the rest of the Celtics buying into Doc Rivers game plans offensively and defensively. They always had a total “team approach” to every game with no specific focus on power at the PG position.

2009 Orlando Magic: 1 Finals Appearance (Lost to Lakers in 5 games)

Key Offensive Strengths: Dwight Howard, Terrific 3 Point Shooting, Great Offensive Spacing

Starting Point Guard: Rafeer Alston, (Jameer Nelson)

Point Guard Jameer Nelson

With their offensive attack that started outside with great 3 point shooting and finished inside with Dwight Howard at his best, the Magic proved to be a tough team. However, they went to the finals without their starting PG Jameer Nelson. Nelson was having an all-star caliber season but had a shoulder injury that kept him out until an unhealthy return in the finals. The Magic were then forced to run their offense in the playoffs with AND1 streetballer Rafeer Alston at the point guard spot. While Alston did do some nice things for the Magic throughout those playoffs he was far from the reason that they made it to the finals.

2011 Dallas Mavericks: 1 Championship (Defeated Miami Heat in 6 games)

Key Offensive Strengths: Balanced Offense, Terrific Floor Spacing, Strong Bench, Ball Movement, Unselfishness, Excellent 3 Point Shooting, Dirk Nowitzki

Starting Point Guard: “Elderly” Jason Kidd

Wizards v/s Mavericks 02/26/11

Rick Carlisle was brilliant in spacing the floor and found great ways to make everyone effective on offense. Jason Kidd had no focus in this offense and didn’t dominate the ball at all. He closely adhered to Rick Carlisle’s game plan and kept the ball moving fast and kept the Heat defenders scrambling everywhere. The only time the ball stopped moving was in late game situations where Dirk Nowitzki used an array of beautiful fade-away jump shots to completely destroy all hope of a first Miami big 3 championship.

2011-2013 Miami Heat: 2 Championships, 3 Finals Appearances

Key Offensive Strengths: Heat Big 3- Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, “Motion” Offense

Starting Point Guard: Mario Chalmers

Wizards v/s Heat 03/30/11

The 2011 Heat that lost to the Mavericks were not the same team the following 2 championship years. After their 2011 Finals loss, Coach Erick Spoelstra introduced a fast paced motion offense that took advantage of his 3 superstars athletic abilities.

Due to this offense and Miami’s overall talent Mario Chalmer’s role on these team’s were very minimal. All Chalmers had to do was bring the ball up, get the offense in play, and occasionally hit an open jumper or attack the basket with a hard drive. Miami’s offense relied on talent and pace rather than on good point guard play.

Spoelstra has been cited numerous times for calling the Heat’s offense “position-less”. This also can explain why Lebron James can be seen initiating the offense in opposite ways. Sometimes he brings up the ball and/or works his way in from the perimeter, while at other times he is positioned like a traditional power forward in the post. Being “position-less” allows Miami to be successful without the use of a traditional or elite point guard.

2012 Oklahoma City Thunder: 1 Finals Appearance (Lost to Miami Heat in 5 Games)

Key Offensive Strengths: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden

Starting Point Guard: Russell Westbrook

Point Guard Russell Westbrook

This was the first team that made it to the NBA finals to feature an elite Point Guard since the Spurs with Tony Parker in 2007 (We did not count Rondo as elite in 2008, and 2010, due to his inexperience and youth at those points).

The Thunder shocked the league by defeating the Heat in the first game of the finals. However, things went downhill from there as the Thunder lost their next 4 games. While Russell had some nice moments in the finals like his Game three 43 point outburst, he was still heavily criticized for his performance.

Scott Brooks placed such a high amount of his offense on the new style dynamic Westbrook, which resulted negatively in the PG taking more shots in the finals than the Thunders true star Kevin Durant. Durant was having a phenomenal series averaging over to 30 ppg on an astonishing 54% from the field. You could argue that having this dynamic elite PG in Westbrook actually hurt the Thunder rather than helped them. Thunder fans deeply regret the James Harden trade and wish they had parted with Westbrook rather than the better decision making 2 guard in James Harden. The point of this is not to bash Westbrook but rather to show that having so much focus on the PG position didn’t necessarily add up to a championship for this Thunder team.

2013 San Antonio Spurs: 1 Finals Appearance (Defeated by the Miami Heat in 7 Games)

Key Offensive Strengths: Balanced Offense, Terrific Floor Spacing, Strong Bench, Ball Movement, Unselfishness, Excellent 3 Point Shooting Tim Duncan, Tony Parker

Starting Point Guard: Tony Parker

Point Guard Tony Parker

Tony Parker is the best point guard to be in the finals since Jason Kidd in 2003.

Parker started the 2013 finals in a terrific way with a wild shot clock banking shot to put away Miami in Game 1. However, a lingering hamstring injury made Parker transparent for the remainder of the finals. In Parkers place Greg Poppovich’s brilliant offense kept the Spurs flowing. Tim Duncan and his ever-reliable superstar play helped as well. However, while the Spurs didn’t necessarily rely on Parker too much in the finals, they certainly needed him to get there.


Out of the 12 different teams in the Finals since 2008, Parker and Westbrook are the lone elite Point Guards on this list. With only 2 out of the last 12 Finals teams having elite Point Guards and both of those teams being Finals losers, the outlook on today’s PG’s must really start being re-evaluated.

While the exciting elite Point Guards like Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and Stephen Curry might grab headlines, they’ve still all failed to grab what really matters most- an NBA championship.

Swaggy P: Does Nick Young Belong With The Lakers?

The Lakers have Nick Young, A.K.A Swaggy P (as he prefers to be called) for just one year as sort of a “test drive”. So far its working out better than expected. Young has been the talk of the town as of late, in the past 5 games he’s averaging 21.2 ppg. However, its not only about what hes doing, but its also about how he does it. Laker fans couldn’t help but go nuts Christmas day when Young pulled out all his swag to make a fool out of Lebron James. With a series of crossovers to a final flashy fadeaway jumper, Young brought Lebron James back to the playground.

That’s what so great about Young, his style and swagger to take the shot no matter who’s guarding him. He scored 11 points in the 3rd quarter of the Lakers Christmas day matchup vs. the Heat, with Lebron guarding him. When he has the ball he thinks he’s the best player on the floor period. It’s pretty similar to the way his injured teammate Kobe Bryant usually thinks too.

So whats not to love about Young? Here is the harsh answer- he’s not Kobe. Why then does he look like such a good Shooting Guard this season? Because in his current D’antoni system, all his flaws don’t exist. His major flaws are that he’s a bad and lazy defender, and that he has a horrid shot selection (shooting around 42% this year). However, with D’antoni, Young’s weaknesses are perfectly hidden. D’antoni’s defense is non-existent and his offense uses many quick trigger shooting plays that make it easy for Young to look comfortable with all his fadeaways.


Young Should: Leave for a contender
Young will be at his best on a good team that can handle his swaggy non-sense in a good way. That means putting him in this 6th man role, but in a more efficient way. On a good contending team he would need to cut down on his bad shot selection and start taking better shots. If that means he averages 10-12 ppg next year instead of his current 16 ppg, so be it. As long as its on less and better shot attempts any team would be more than happy with that type of bench contribution.

Lakers Should: Let him WALK
For the Lakers, they are just keeping Young in this immature JR smith stage that isn’t good for either side. If Young leaves and arrives at a contending team next year, it might allow him to mature past the ways of his bad shot selection and closer towards some meaningful contender worthy scoring. Also, it should be noted that I just can’t see Young doing anything worthwhile once Kobe gets back. I just don’t see that dynamic working. It wasn’t working that bad yet though: in the 6 games that kobe played Young averaged 17.1 ppg. However since Kobe’s been out his scoring jumped up to 21.8 over the last 6 games. It also worth mentioning that Kobe was not in full gear looking to score, he only averaged 13.8 ppg during his small stretch of games. When he’s in “Mamba” Kobe mode Nick Young will not see his normal “swag” shot attempts. Kobe just has no patience for his nonsense. After all there can only be so many “bail you out of the shot clock” players on one team, and I think Kobe already has that title here in LA. All-in-All Nick Young just shouldn’t be a Laker next year.

Damian Lillard is The New King of Clutch

Rajon Rondo has not played a single NBA game this season and yet he leads Lillard in all-star game voting by 25,000 votes…

All-star voters beware, Lillard is coming for your votes. After hitting game winners in back-to-back games the Portland point guard has put the league on notice. Lillard first woke up NBA fans this year with a turn around fading jumper that dropped in to beat the Pistons in OT. Then a game later, Lillard shocked the world outdueled Kyrie Irving to the tune of 36 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and eight 3 pointers. His last 3 was the real dagger though, a game winning jumper from the top of the key right over the outstretched arm of Alonzo Gee to seal a road victory for Rip City. After the shot went in, Cavs color commentator Austin Carr announced in respect to Lillard:

“You’re watching a superstar being born right in front our eyes,”

Lillard, the quiet rookie of the year is finally getting the respect he deserves. For all those that still don’t give him his proper respect beware- Lillard is coming to your town soon to rip out your hearts with ice cold game winners.

Pickup Reggie Jackson Now!

As of this writing Reggie Jackson is available in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues. Now that Westbrook is out until after the all-star break this guy is a no brainer- instant pickup.

In his first game in place of Westbrook, Jackson had to start at point against Dwight Howard and the Rockets. In only 26 minutes of play he racked up 16 points on 7-12 from the field, including two 3 pointers. Other than his hot shooting he had a shocking 8 assists with 0 turnovers. That is control from the point guard position that even Westbrook can’t accomplish. To put it bluntly Jackson is a stud, in a 12 team league he should have been owned already. He’s had solid averages all year in only 25 minutes of play time per game. At 12.4 ppg, 3.4 assists, and 3.8 rebounds Jackson is a nice contributor in 3 major categories. With him starting for the next month or two his playing time and numbers will only go up. Tonight’s win against a strong western team like Houston (and his 21 point game in a win vs. the Spurs last week) shows that Jackson can have a good stat line in big games.

Bottom Line:
Jacksons averages from now to the all-star break should improve to at least around 15-5-5 (ppg, ast, reb), which is great for any fantasy team in any size league.