The Knicks didn’t make any splashes this offseason in free agency, at least in terms of adding a big-name talent to the roster.
But the moves they did make are the kind that can build a foundation.
This summer was Phil Jackson’s first chance to make a real impact in re-shaping the New York roster, a process that begun at last season’s trade deadline when he jettisoned multiple players and essentially tanked the remainder of the season to get a high lottery pick in this summer’s draft.
In free agency, the Knicks focused on adding lesser pieces, rather than chasing guys who would be unlikely to sign. And as Phil Jackson explained, that was the necessary path to take when looking to rebuild almost from scratch.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com:
Team president Phil Jackson believes the New York Knicks must prove they can be a winning franchise before they can be considered a destination for the NBA’s premier free agents.
“We need to win, be a competitive team,” Jackson said Monday at the Las Vegas Summer League in his first public comments since the Knicks signed center Robin Lopez, shooting guard Arron Afflalo, and forwards Derrick Williams and Kyle O’Quinn in free agency. “I think we showed agents and players around the league a serious nature of what we’re trying to accomplish. People who know basketball will recognize that, and we’ll have people who want to come here.” …
“We made a defensive attempt in free agency to really kind of solidify our team and give ourselves a basis from which we can work from,” Jackson said. “I think everything went according to how we thought it would go. There were some long shots out there that we took, but the reality was, we wanted what we got.
The Lakers might want to pay attention here.
The reality in today’s NBA is that All-Star caliber players are no longer willing to sign up to play in large markets like New York or Los Angeles simply because they’re desirable cities in which to live. Winning matters, especially when the money can be similar at so many different destinations.
This will become even more true in advance of the 2016-17 season, when the salary cap will spike upwards of 30 percent, and literally every team will have money to spend.
Jackson has done a good job making the necessary moves that can provide a significant increase to the team’s win total from last season. And if things go as expected, that will go a long way in making New York an exciting place for free agents to realistically consider — possibly as soon as next summer.