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.
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 reiterated Tuesday that the Knicks will consider trading their draft pick, which has a 19.9 percent chance of being the No. 1 overall pick.
Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter
“Yes, we’ll consider everything,” Jackson said at a press conference at the Knicks training facility in Tarrytown.
“When the picks come in on the 19th of May [in the Draft Lottery], everything starts to germinate from there. Do you move a pick 1, 2, 3, 4? That’s questionable. Do you move a pick 5 if that’s the alternative end result, and use it as a chip, maybe. So there’s a lot of options that are out there.”
Jackson previously said he knows who he would take should the Knicks get the No. 1 pick. Kentucky’s Karl Anthony-Towns and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor are the consensus top two picks.
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Prized unrestricted free agent big man LaMarcus Aldridge may let his future in Portland be decided by the outcome of the Trail Blazers’ opening-round playoff series against Memphis.
According to OregonLive.com, Aldridge may leave Portland when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer if the team is quickly jettisoned out of the NBA playoffs at the hands of Memphis. Players told the website they’re worried Aldridge may walk this summer.
One player estimated it was about a 50-50 shot, and that was before the Blazers’ lopsided 100-86 loss to the Grizzlies in Game 1.
Aldridge is definitely one of the Knicks’ top free-agent targets this summer and will be coveted by most teams in the league with the cap space to offer him a max deal.
That being said, the odds have always been in Portland’s favor to retain him. After all, the Blazers can offer him the most lucrative deal while Aldridge has previously discussed being the best Blazer in franchise history.
Still, you’d have to imagine that the team’s playoff success — or lack thereof — has to be frustrating for the power forward who seems so set on etching his legacy while he’s still in his prime.
If that’s the case, he probably makes more sense in other interested teams such as Dallas or Houston, as opposed to New York where he’ll be a part of the rebuilding process instead of that “missing piece.”
The Knicks are constantly being linked to big man like Aldridge and Greg Monroe, which means Phil Jackson is doing his homework on revamping the frontcourt and finding Carmelo Anthony a big man to team up with. Then again, the Knicks also must take a look at their backcourt options as well, because they need a total facelift this summer.