Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks look like the perfect idea of a team ready to shut it down for the season and get the young guys some experience in the hopes of building a brighter future.
As these Knicks would prove, though, there is a big difference between looking and doing.
Apparently the Knicks still want to win games this year. It’s an odd thought in an Association filled with alleged tankers each year. But that’s where the Knicks are at this year, something head coach Kurt Rambis revealed while talking with ESPN.com’s Ian Begley:
Kurt Rambis acknowledged that there is a possibility that he will play some of the younger Knicks more often if the team continues to fall out of the playoff race but he added that he’s not considering it at the moment.” “On some level that’s a possibility&. There’s some logic to that, to giving them some more time,” Rambis said. “But we still want to try and finish the season and positively as possible and win as many games as possible. It’s something I’ll digest at a later time.”
It’s not hard to figure out which question pops to mind first—exactly how far out of the playoff race do the Knicks have to fall in order to play the young guys?
New York finds itself 13th in the Eastern Conference at 25-36 and losers in eight of its last 10. The team won’t exactly be reaching the Philadelphia 76ers (8-52) at the bottom of the conference, so at what point does the team flip the switch?
Right now, Carmelo Anthony, Arron Afflalo, Kristaps Porzingis, Jose Calderon and Robin Lopez soak up the most minutes per game. Only two of those guys are under 30 years and just two of them figure to play a major role in the team’s future.
Now seems as good a time as any to trot out Langston Galloway and Jerian Grant for more minutes at the point. Give Jimmer Fredette some run to see if he deserves to stay around. Ditto for Derrick Williams under the basket. Call up Thanasis Antetokounmpo and see what he’s got.
There are big changes on the way for the Knicks. Jackson and the front office figure to be major players in free agency this summer. Finding a point guard to round out a strong trio, if not a starting center as well, would work wonders for the rebuild. Even if some of these guys wind up getting replaced, giving them some run now could make them more attractive trade pieces in the eyes of potential partners should the Knicks need to make a deal.
It’s never fun for a team to lose. This is especially the case for a guy like Jackson and a franchise as storied as the Knicks. But the playoff hopes are over, so it’s time to get serious about the future. The sooner Rambis and the Knicks throw in the towel, the better.