Did Phil Jackson just ask New York Knicks fans to be optimistic? This rings of the end of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” where the cast sings “Always look on the bright side of life” while being crucified.
It’s been a historically bad season in New York. The Knicks are 14-60 — that’s both the worst record in the NBA and the most losses in Knicks franchise history.
Jackson felt he needed to address the Knicks season ticket holders as the team approaches the draft and free agency, and did so in a letter and video that ESPN got a hold of. Of course, Jackson tried to put a positive spin on things in what was essentially a pitch to season ticket holders.
“While I know this has been a challenging season for our team on the court, I can also tell you that everyone in the organization is working tirelessly to get our Knicks back to a place where we are once again competing at the highest level,” Jackson said in a video message…
“We have made key roster moves to free up significant cap space that will provide us greater flexibility to acquire talent in this summer’s free agency,” Jackson said. “And for the first time in many years, we expect to have a top pick in the NBA Draft this June. These are key steps to building a roster of players that have both the talent and character to win in New York and who, alongside Carmelo Anthony, will become a team that can become a consistent winner.”
Jackson also tweeted out this:
Phil Jackson deserves credit for this: Unlike previous years the Knicks didn’t squander assets to look for a short-term fix that got them into the playoffs but hurt them long term. That has been standard operating procedure for the Knicks under James Dolan for far too long. Rather than bottom out at all in a rebuild, they would trade picks and young players to bring back guys who got them into the playoffs, but never made them a contender.
That alone is good reason for Knicks fans to be patient. As for optimism… good luck selling that in New York. But things can and should improve.
The Knicks have Carmelo Anthony (hopefully healthy). They have what will be at least a top four draft pick, plus young players they like such as Tim Hardaway Jr. and Langston Galloway. They have cap space — not only to chase stars, who likely do not come (Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge, for example), but also to round out the roster with quality, high IQ players who can fit in the triangle offense. This year’s roster — which Jackson had a hand in building — was a terrible fit for the offense Derek Fisher was installing. The Knicks need to get the kind of veterans who can move the ball and shoot that fit in the triangle. Then they need to get better buy-in from Anthony on the offense.
The Knicks are not poised for a one-year leap to contenders, but in the East they could make the playoffs next season with the right summer moves. They could build a foundation that would intrigue top free agents in 2016.
This summer we start to see if Phil Jackson really can do this job. And if he does his then we get a better sense of if Derrick Fisher can coach this team and system.