Phil Jackson: Free agency went ‘how we thought it would go’

In an interview with the New York Times, New York Knicks president Phil Jackson discussed an array of topics, ranging from his thoughts on free agency, the development of Kristaps Porzingis and why he hasn’t spoken to Carmelo Anthony much since free agency concluded.

After signing Arron Afflalo, Robin Lopez, Derrick Williams and acquiring Kyle O’Quinn earlier this month — and failing to lure Greg Monroe, LaMarcus Aldridge or DeAndre Jordan to New York — Jackson said free agency went according to plan.

“I think everything went according to how we thought it would go,” Jackson told the paper. “There’s some long shots out there that we took. But the reality was we wanted what we got.”

Jackson also added that he and Anthony have not spoken since the start of the free agency on July 1, then questioned what exactly the big deal was.

“We’re a team sport,” Jackson said, “and when we’re putting a team together, that’s our first priority: How are we going to make it a team that works together? … Carmelo is obviously a premier player, and we understand that. But it’s a team game, and it has to fit together.”

Sam Spiegelman

Jackson didn’t say anything outlandish in this interview, though it was a bit of a stretch to say that free agency went according to plan.

The Knicks struck out on the marquee free agents in the 2015 crop and had to settle for a number of second-tier options. While they do — as Jackson pointed out — help the team out defensively, nobody is confusing Lopez for Jordan or Aldridge.

As for his relationship with Anthony, the team superstar should be consulted on the Knicks’ moves, but at what point does Jackson have to be in Anthony’s ear about signing a wing player? Jackson is the team president, so it’s up to him to assemble a team around Anthony. He knows what Anthony brings to the table — he’s trying to use that knowledge and the goals of fitting players in the triangle to make the Knicks more competitive for 2015-16.

I don’t see any qualms with not exchanging texts about making sure ‘Melo approves of trading for O’Quinn.


Could Knicks replace Cole Aldrich with Alex Kirk?

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

For the Knicks, NBA Summer League is undoubtedly serving as the team’s opportunity to get a first look at the likes of Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant, in addition to allowing a player like Cleanthony Early to prove his worth and compete for potential rotation minutes.

But following Monday’s win over the Lakers, the offseason event may have already opened up the team’s eyes to finding a potential free agent to add to the roster.

As Phil Jackson targets a backup center, perhaps Knicks’ Summer League big man Alex Kirk should garner serious consideration. Initially acquired by New York from the Cavaliers in the J.R. Smith & Iman Shumpert trade, Kirk was subsequently waived, but not re-signed like Lance Thomas and Lou Amundson.

The New Mexico product averaged 12.2 points (on 49 percent from the field), 6.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks through 41 D-League contests last season.

Making his first appearance for the Knicks on Monday, Kirk looked solid. He understands how to use his body on both ends of the floor, and is the gritty type of guy that can box out and fight for rebounds at any cost. He’s aggressive. What’s more, he’s not afraid to take mid-range jumpers. Kirk chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds. More importantly, he went 7 of 8 from the floor and boasted a plus/minus of +7.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Cleveland Cavaliers

It’d be worthwhile to take an extended look at the 23-year-old. Perhaps even bring him to training camp and see how he matches up against the Knicks’ already evident big men. Cole Aldrich was a favorite of Derek Fisher’s due to their time as teammates playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He is a very good rebounder. On the flip side, however, Kirk may be a bit more versatile. His offensive skills are more likely to aid him in the team’s system. He may not be as polished defensively, but the potential is there.

Much like Aldrich, a player like Kirk (or whoever else ends up filling the backup center role) probably won’t be asked to do too much. Still, a younger big man who a team can rely upon for spot minutes, but also develop in the long run as well, is a valuable asset.

Of course, there are other options out there as well. Still, a more seasoned player like Jeff Withey or Henry Sims is likely to cost more. The Knicks could certainly use an extra guard or wing. Should that prove to be a priority, it may be better to save more money for someone else and then sign a younger big at the minimum.

It’ll be interesting to see how Kirk continues to perform in Las Vegas.


New York Times: Former top pick Weis battles with off-court issues

Former first-round draft pick Frederic Weis never panned out as the top big man for the Knicks during his brief stint with the team.

Now living in France, Weis has an even greater struggle, dealing with his own depression and a son that was born with autism. >> Read More 

Alexey Shved turns down Knicks’ offer

Alexey Shved has turned down the Knicks’ contract offer and is considering playing overseas next season instead (David Pick, July 14).

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

This is a little surprising. It appeared as though New York had saved its room exception for Shved. Though it’s not specified what kind of offer he turned down, one would have to expect it was worth that much, and not the minimum.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at New York Knicks

The 26-year-old’s short tenure with the Knicks was relatively successful, all things considered. During a rather dismal season, Shved’s effort was considered to be a rather rare bright spot. Through a 16-game stint, he averaged what would have represented seasonal career-highs across the board with 14.8 points and 4.6 rebounds. He also shot better from the field and deep than ever before.

Shved was given an unique green light with many of New York’s players sidelined with injuries as the season concluded. Such a role was one he appeared to appreciate. Certainly not one to lack any confidence, Shved could be found taking fade-away jumpers or perhaps, more intelligently, driving to the hoop. His main objective was to score on a team otherwise starving for an offensive spark.

The fact that he was playing so well made his acquisition one of Phil Jackson’s better moves.

Perhaps his most recent display of success with the Knicks will result in him cashing in on a more lucrative contract overseas. It can’t be ignored, however, that the Knicks were Shved’s fourth team in three seasons. He’s struggled to find consistency in the NBA, both on the floor and off of it. Being traded back and forth, forced to prove yourself over and over again, with a living situation always in flux, cannot be easy. It sometimes takes a toll on a player.

Thus, Shved may be more comfortable (and perhaps his game is more suited for) overseas. Either way, it appears as though New York needs to move on to secondary options.


Early leads Knicks to 2nd summer win

Cleanthony Early and Langston Galloway each had 13 points and nine rebounds and foul-prone Kristaps Porzingis was held to nine points in 18 minutes as the Knicks held on to defeat the Lakers 71-65 in the Las Vegas summer league Monday.

The Knicks led 19-5 after the first quarter. Jerian Grant had 10 points and eight assists.

Porzingis had five fouls. Jabari Brown had 20 points to lead the Lakers. Box score here.

dolan jackson mills

Jackson satisfied with free agent moves

Phil Jackson told reporters Monday that although the Knicks made a run at “longshots” in free agency, “The reality was we wanted what we got.”

The Knicks president, in Las Vegas to watch summer league games, said the team “made a defensive attempt, going out in free agency to solidify our team and give ourselves a basis in which we can work from.”

The Knicks added center Robin Lopez, guard Arron Afflalo and forward Derrick Williams. In addition, they acquired big man Kyle O’Quinn from Orlando.

Jackson downplayed the Knicks’ failure to land center Greg Monroe, who signed with Milwaukee after being linked to New York. He said the Bucks were the right spot for him, given Milwaukee’s speed and the defense that will be around Monroe.

In another interview, Knicks GM Steve Mills said their three top big man targets were the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, Monroe and Lopez.

The Knicks president also said he hasn’t spoken with Carmelo Anthony since the Knicks made their free agent signings.

Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New York Knicks forward Cleanthony Early (17) dribbles the ball against the defense of San Antonio Spurs guard Kyle Anderson (1) during an NBA Summer League game at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Fisher: Cleanthony Early needs to improve defense for minutes

Cleanthony Early showed offensive improvement with a game-high 18 points in the New York Knicks’ Summer Leauge opener.

However, if he’s going to earn more minutes in the 2015-16 season, then he’ll have to improve on his defense, Knicks head coach Derek Fisher told Newsday.

“Where he’s going to really earn his living is using his athleticism and his aggression on the defensive end and be a shutdown guy,” Fisher said. “That’s the end of the floor where he’s going to have to make a difference to get minutes in the regular season.”

Sam Spiegelman

Fisher had similar comments regarding the play of first-round pick Kristaps Porzingis, so it’s seemingly a theme for the Knicks’ head coach this summer.

Obviously, the Knicks were glaringly awful on the defensive end of the floor last season. The additions of free agents Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez are supposed to help the team improve in that area. If Early can turn things around on that end as well, then the Knicks would have a number of solid contributors coming off the bench.

So far, it’s promising to see Early continue to develop as an offensive contributor, but given his athleticism and perhaps better toughness, he could have another element added to his game.