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?
Without 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.