The Knicks made a step forward last season — 15 more wins, they were better on the offense and defensive ends, and with Kristaps Porzingis there is real hope for the future.
Count Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson among the optimists, and the reason is New York’s front line. Jackson was interviewed on WNBC and said he and Anthony think the Knicks have the best front line in the East and makes the overall situation “not that bad.” Here is what he said, hat tip ESPN’s Ian Begley.
“In our meeting at the end of the season, Carmelo said, ‘really (the Knicks’ situation is) not that bad. I think we have the best front line guys in the game, in the Eastern Conference, in Robin (Lopez), myself and Kristaps (Porzingis).’ And I have to agree with him. Yes, those are three real potent figures…. So we have some positions to fill , but not a lot. Not that many.”
The Knicks certainly have one of the better front courts on paper. The Cavaliers (LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson) could make an argument, and Atlanta (Kent Bazemore, Paul Millsap, Al Horford) is in the mix. But the Knicks front line is not bad, and when Carmelo/Porzingis/Lopez were on the court together the Knicks were +1.2 points per 100 points possessions (as a team the Knicks had a -2.8 net rating).
Certainly, the Knicks need serious upgrades at the point and in the backcourt in general, especially with new coach Jeff Hornacek’s preference to play up tempo. Point guard has to be an off-season priority for Phil Jackson. If Mike Conley re-signs with the Grizzles this July as is the belief around the league, Jackson’s job gets more difficult because the pool of free agent point guards is shallow.
It will be interesting to see how much Hornacek will play Carmelo/Porzingis/Lopez together. If the Knicks do want to play uptempo, playing Porzingis at the five and Anthony at the four makes more sense (if they can bring in the wing players to make it work). He’s going to spend a lot of next season looking for rotations that he likes.