The New York Knicks: A Franchise in Shambles
In 1984 the Knicks won the first NBA lottery and picked Patrick Ewing but no championships came out of their historic run with Ewing and no championships have come for them since 1973, when they beat the Los Angeles Lakers 4-1 in the NBA finals.
Phil Jackson who once helped bring the Knicks a title as a player joined the team again in 2014 as the team’s President. In those three years the Knicks didn’t do anything but lose regularaly, going 80-166 in that time. After no playoffs and plenty turmoil in those years ownership and Jackson finally decided to part ways.
Jackson made his two best players, Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony the scapegoat when it came to his failures as the president.
Porzingis skipped his exits meeting with Jackson at the end of the season and Jackson was enraged by that action. Jackson went to the media to announce that Porzingis was on the trading block just two seasons after the Knicks drafted him and even though Porzingis was the Knicks lone bright spot.
After trade talks that continued all season long last year for Carmelo Anthony there were reports that the Knicks would buyout the remaining $54 million on Anthony’s contract this off season.
These moves were desperate moves to gain control of the situation, yet the situation still looks out of control. Jackson’s experience in winning 11 championships with the Chicago Bulls and the Lakers as a coach did not work out for him in New York. There were reports that the Knicks players did not want to play the famous Triangle offense that Jackson earned Championship success with Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Michael Jordan.
With all the Knicks bonehead decisions from players to coaching, to leadership it is easy for one to wonder if the Knicks front office cares about winning at all. Jackson reportedly fell asleep during one of the draft workouts that the Knicks had with an unknown prospect before the 2017 NBA Draft. Also on draft night, owner James Dolan was at his blues-infused rock band’s show across town.
Just a week from parting ways with Jackson, the Knicks decided to surprisingly sing Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year $71 million offer sheet. The deal wowed the entire league, as that number was quite excessive for the former Knick, Hardaway, which urged folks around the NBA to further question the Knicks as an organization.
Tim Hardaway is a serviceable player, as he showed improvement during this past season averaging 14.5 points for the season which is his highest point average in his career but he is not a player that was necessary to add at this time or price point.
In free agency thus far, the Knicks have been quiet on the market and they lack draft picks to rebuild through upcoming drafts. With mind boggling signings such as, Joakim Noah for 4 years 72 million inked last off season, they are not in the best financial shape and with no positive direction in place, free agents have routinely declined to sign there.
Reviewing the Knicks, draft history it can shine light as to why they have lacked success in recent years. The last time that the Knicks had two first round picks in the same draft was in 2005 when they drafted Channing Frye and David Lee. Both players time in New York was short lived and they’ve gone on to be serviceable role players for other teams.
The Knicks did not have a first round pick or any pick in 2016 and they selected Porzingis in 2015. Also in 2014 they did not have a first round pick, a large part of this was because of all the assets and picks they gave up in 2011 to land Carmelo Anthony. In order for a team to develop and rebuild there has to be a young core to help it advance and each day that goes by it seems like 33 year old Carmelo Anthony does not fit into the equation.
The team is currently on the market for a new general manager but after hot pursuit for Cleveland’s former General Manager, David Griffin, he too has decided that the Knicks job is not for him.
In last month’s draft the Knicks decided to pass on explosive guard, Dennis Smith though he was still available, in favor of Frank Ntilikina because he fits the triangle offense but now Phil Jackson is no longer there. Dennis Smith was the better prospect in many people’s eyes but Dolan has admitted that running a basketball franchise is not his best attribute.
“I recognized some three-plus years ago that this—running a basketball operation—this is not my skill set,” Dolan told ESPN New York’s Michael Kay Show following the Charles Oakley saga. He added,
“AND YOU KNOW THE BEST THING I COULD DO WAS FIND THE BEST GUY. A LOT OF PEOPLE SAID: ‘YOU WONT BE ABLE TO STAY AWAY; YOU’RE GOING TO MEDDLE.’ WELL I THINK EVERYBODY RECOGNIZES NOW THAT I HAVE STAYED AWAY THAT I HAVE LET PHIL ABSOLUTELY RUN THE FRANCHISE AND THAT I INTEND TO DO THAT FOR THE LENGTH OF THE AGREEMENT.” ~ JAMES DOLAN
The Oakley incident was one of the most embarrassing moments in the Knicks history due to the fact that they banned a beloved Knick in embarrassing fashion from Madison Square Garden. After outrage on social media and through the media he was reinstated a few weeks later.
This was one of many of Dolan’s mess ups from the Isaiah Thomas days to the hijacking of the Carmelo Anthony trade. Dolan is not a well liked owner, especially among a tough NY fan base and just three years ago fans were calling for him to vacate his spot but now the firing of Jackson has given him some time to keep his spot, though as owner his spot is not really up for the taking unless he wants it to be.
But for how long though? The NBA was founded on August 3rd 1949 in New York City at the Empire State building and it would make sense that the biggest city in America where the NBA is played has a basketball team that is competitive. Basketball is spreading globally, from China, to Africa and all points in between, so it makes sense that a place like New York City has more relevance than being the NBA’s sad story.