Two years ago the New York Knicks seemed to rocket back into relevancy by bringing on the man himself, Phil Jackson.
The vision then? Compete by now. Instead, the bumbling Knicks sit 13th in the Eastern Conference at 26-38, losers in seven of their last 10. Carmelo Anthony isn’t the happiest camper in the world and outside of the face of the franchise, Kristaps Porzingis and Jackson himself, folks probably cannot even name anyone else on the roster, big market or not.
The above and then some is why Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News wonders if the Knicks will make a change this offseason, permitting Jackson to crawl his way back to the Los Angeles Lakers:
You say Phil needs more time. But how much more? Phil didn’t take over the 76ers when he took over the Knicks two years ago this month. By the way, you know what he saw when he did take over, after a season of injuries? He saw the Knicks finish 16-5 trying to grind their way into the 8th spot in the playoffs. Since then the Knicks are 60 games under .500.
Phil Jackson came here riding a wave of romance because he is an old Knick, and said all the right things about the Garden. He also came to get paid, because raise a hand if you think that two years ago somebody else in the NBA was going to give him a $60 million deal to become a rookie executive at the age of 68, which is what he was at the time.
To be fair, Jackson wasn’t exactly handed the best set of cards. He’s cleared a ton of cap space and will free even more this summer. He had his hands on drafting Porzingis and the Knicks have been involved in constant chatter surrounding trades to improve.
But do the Knicks have the patience for this? Anthony is going on 32 years old. Jose Calderon is the starting point guard. Arron Afflalo at shooting guard. Robin Lopez at center. There is only so much Jackson can improve in one offseason, and that’s if he and the organization can convince players to come to town in the first place.
As Lupica perfectly mentions, some of Jackson’s decisions have been as odd as his tweets. Jackson couldn’t help but bring on one of his guys with Derek Fisher as head coach. Now it’s Kurt Rambis. What comes next is hard to say, a notion that certainly applies to Jackson’s odd behavior on social media. A small sampling:
How does commenting on Rauf mean I’m comparing him to Curry?
Remind, yes, quick release, cross over, Yep, MVP, nope. Get a grip!
— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) February 29, 2016
Never seen anything like SCurry? Remind you of Chris Jackson/ Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who had a short but brilliant run in NBA?
— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) February 28, 2016
It’s hard to say if the Knicks would be better off without Jackson now. The organization is this deep into the rebuild with him and who knows? Maybe, just maybe this is the summer he can nab a Jeff Teague or somebody else to pair with his solid one-two punch. But it’s going to take a dramatic summer. Teams like the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat are in contention in the conference because of smart move after smart move with a clear vision.
New York, not so much. Whether that blame hammer falls on Jackson is hard to say, but if the love affair between Jackson and the Knicks ends, few could act shocked.