Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer
The Knicks are out of playoff contention and while Phil Jackson’s vision is becoming a bit more clear with each passing day, the relative unknown still leads to plenty of speculation with New York set to boast nearly $30 million in cap room this summer.
Translation: the floodgates will open.
It’s important to keep such speculation in prospective with regard to who the Knicks may or may not target. Having said that, LaMarcus Aldridge could arguably be the biggest (and most reasonable) player Jackson and Co. consider.
According to Marc Stein, seeking out his talents is reportedly part of the plan.
Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the big man left the door open when pressed with questions about potentially suiting up for the Knicks during NBA All-Star Weekend.
“I think playing (in New York) is awesome. The fans are very loyal. And they’re honest,” Aldridge said (Beer, February 14).
He even praised the triangle offense, asserting, “I’m a post player. So I don’t mind it. I feel like I could play in it and I could do well in it.”
Needless to say, as Stein points out, New York will certainly have competition for his services. Recruiting him and attempting to pry him away from a great situation with the Portland Trail Blazers (let alone, additional suitors) won’t be easy.
Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer
NBA champion and four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo will be a free agent this coming summer. Prior to his trade from the Celtics to the Mavericks, he was widely expected to be a likely target for the Knicks. After all, Phil Jackson will be looking to add multiple quality players when he rebuilds New York during free agency.
The Mavericks are a solid team with a steady core group and great history. Nevertheless, Rondo has clashed with head coach Rick Carlisle almost since day one. What’s more, his recent benching (in favor of former Knick Raymond Felton) during Tuesday night’s postseason loss to the Rockets would suggest Rondo already has one foot out the door.
Even so, the Knicks should in no way take this as a sign that the market for Rondo has decreased, or furthermore, an invitation to target him because of it.
What Rondo has been able to do (or hasn’t been able to do) in Dallas is irrelevant. The triangle offense doesn’t call for the ball to continuously be run through a point guard. Thus, a more natural floor general (like Rondo) may not succeed. Rondo is the type of player who likes to swish and dish. He thrives on being able to distribute the basketball, but his success in doing so is also in dependent on his teammates’ ability to convert at the basket. Even considering the available options in free agency, New York isn’t likely to boast the type of offensive prowess necessary around Rondo (especially given the fact that the money spent on him will limit who else the Knicks can attract) for him to ultimately play at the highest level possible.
The more he struggles in Dallas, the more endearing Rondo will become to bargain-shopping teams who want to get the most out of their available cap space. While there’s something to be said about getting good value out of a player (especially as it relates to their newly signed contract), the Knicks need to understand that Rondo simply isn’t the player for what they’re trying to do.
Rondo’s history and past accomplishments are sure to make him one of the bigger names available come free agency, but here’s to hoping the Knicks see past all of that and opt to reel in an arguably lesser known player, who can still, ultimately give them better value in the end. Such options could include Reggie Jackson, Goran Dragic, or even Patrick Beverley.
The Knicks will be in the running for the first pick in this year’s NBA Lottery, but don’t tell that to Phil Jackson.
The Knicks’ president hopes to fix the Knicks, but do so by opening up the team’s wallet and luring free agents to New York City.
In an interview with the New York Post, Jackson explained drafting players is an inexact science and adding free agents to the mix is adding known commodities.
“In the present day in the NBA, 19-, 20-year-olds, coming into the league, it’s really hard to project what that player will be like in his first contract situation,’’ Jackson said. “We know what the first-round pick will mean to us, but we also know we will build the team on free agents. We have 190 players or so who will be free agents. That’s where our priority stands.’’
To Jackson’s credit, he’s right.
Adding NBA lottery picks is a gamble, one that could very easily go right or wrong. While the upside is higher when you land a LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or a Dwyane Wade to build your franchise around, it’s equally as detrimental when you get stuck with a Greg Oden, an Adam Morrison or a Darko Milicic.
With so many holes to fill this summer, the Knicks can use their lottery pick while still assembling a roster filled with proven talent. There is a wealth of free-agent talent set to hit the open market, and that puts less pressure on the rookie to succeed — at least right away.
So whether the Knicks land Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahil Okafor or Emmanuel Mudiay, there is less of a need for the 18- or 19-year-old to be an instant superstar when there’s veterans up and down the lineup. In fact, Jackson may actually be onto something.
Here’s what Phil Jackson said on Tuesday…
Anthony Donahue was joined by NBA Champion, Finals MVP, and All Star, Chauncey Billups, to talk about the state of the New York Knicks, the NBA Playoffs, his career, and much more.
Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer
The Knicks’ future, for better or for worse, is wide open. Phil Jackson will look to put his own stamp on the team as they start building from the ground up this coming summer. The NBA Draft and free agency will both play a role in who the Zen Master can reel into the Big Apple as he molds the squad.
Of course, in addition to Carmelo Anthony, a select few familiar faces are set to return next season. Currently under contract, Tim Hardaway Jr. would appear to be one of them.
Following a promising rookie campaign that saw the guard steadily rise up as one of New York’s secondary scorers behind Anthony, new head coach Derek Fisher questioned the young gun’s defensive effort and respective instincts. Playing time was sporadic early on, which caused Hardaway Jr. to take a while before coming into his own, at least a bit more, by season’s end.
His sophomore season had its up and downs, and it appears as though the jury (or namely, Jackson) is still out.
Speaking to the media Tuesday morning about the Knicks’ future plans, Jackson didn’t exactly give Hardaway Jr. a glowing endorsement. He said the guard was “both good and average” this season. That’s not the best encouragement, but perhaps Jackson is instead choosing to show tough love in hopes of lighting a fire under Hardaway Jr.’s butt. If he were angling to promote him as a trade asset, Jackson arguably could have talked him up for potential suitors. He didn’t.
Jackson said many of the team’s guards need to improve at attacking the basket. It’s easy to see that Hardaway Jr., for one, was a much more efficient player when he did. It seems that seeking out higher percentage looks could be the key to the Michigan product’s success, especially in the eyes of Jackson.
Phil Jackson wants to get the Knicks started on the road back to respectability, but don’t expect the Zenmaster to still be with the Knick in another five years.
Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter
He was asked at Tuesday’s press conference if he would be OK with laying the foundation for the future but not remaining with the team for “five, six, seven years,” and his answer was quite revealing.
“Yes, in one short sentence, yes,” he said.
Jackson, 69, initially signed a five-year deal reportedly worth $60 million. Year 1 was a complete and abject failure as the Knicks finished 17-65, the second-worst record in the NBA.
“I was really bothered I didn’t get the Executive of the Year Award, it really bothers me,” he quipped. “But there’s a learning process. Hopefully, I learned some of the ways and the means.”
Jackson said he is optimistic about team despite disappointing season…
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