Saturday, January 24, 2015
The Knicks are a dumpster fire right now, an insult to everything that is basketball. However, in the NBA you have to get worse before you get better and the Knicks are finally doing that right. No more mortgaging their future for those quick attempts to remain relevant that always backfire.
The motto for this season has to be, “In Phil we trust,” which I do fully. As Jalen Rose loves to point out, there have been four men who have been in some way responsible for the majority of championships since the Bill Russell days. Those four: Red Auerbach, Pat Riley, Gregg Popovich and, of course, our man, Phil Jackson. So he is a good person to put our faith in.
Trading J.R. Smith was a fantastic move that needed to be done, and while I have always been a fan of Iman Shumpert, he is an impending free agent who has always been somewhat overrated in the eyes of Knicks fans and will probably receive contract offers higher than he deserves or than the Knicks would have be willing to pay. They have gotten rid of almost every contract that goes beyond this season, will hopefully be able to make some sort of deals involving Calderon and Bargnani, and are in position to get a top pick in the upcoming draft, one that has some prospects expected to be stars at the next level.
If all goes right, they will receive a top-2 pick and select either Jahlil Okafor from Duke or Emmanuel Mudiay, the explosive point guard who was tearing up a Chinese league before getting injured and has been receiving Russell Westbrook comparisons. Then, in my perfect dream world, signing Marc Gasol away from the Grizzlies is already a foregone conclusion. This would form a very solid core composed of the defensive leader and basketball genius Marc Gasol, offensive force Carmelo Anthony, who when paired with other good players has proven to be incredibly effective and a great teammate, and the young, raw talent of either Okafor or Mundiay. Whoever they pick will not have the pressure of carrying a bad team, but instead will be the incredibly talented X-factor on a veteran team, a la young Rajon Rondo on those great Boston teams.
They then fill out their roster with some veterans who will also be free agents this summer. Some players that are on my list of hopefuls are:
• David West - He has a player option that he will most likely opt out of to get out of the tough Indiana situation. The guy is a battled tested, feisty competitor. While his skills might not be close to his once all star level, he is a type of player you want on your team in the playoffs and who puts his heart and soul into the game.
• Arron Affalo - Another player with a player option and a good chance of opting out. A fantastic shooting guard who has improved his game each season he has been in the league. The guy has great range and has willed himself to be a good passer and above average defender.
• Thaddeus Young - He will most likely be looking for greener pastures after playing last few seasons on the 76ers and now on the Timberwolves. A 6 foot 8 power forward who just flat out works harder than everyone else, he is a consummate professional who hustles on every play. The guy is a nightmare in transition and by all accounts an amazing teammate. A perfect glue guy/6th or 7th man on a team looking to contend
• Brandon Wright -The perfect back up center. The guy is one of the most efficient basketball players in the league, always very near the top in PER. He would be a perfect back up for Marc Gasol and could easily fill in as starter when Gasol needed a rest.
• Thomas Robinson - The guy came into the league as a high lottery pick which he has greatly and spectacularly failed to live up to, bouncing around the league before landing in Portland for the past couple seasons. While he may be considered a huge draft bust considering where he was picked, the guy has settled into being a very capable role player who the Knick maybe able to get at a low cost, depending on what the Trailblazers decide to do with him. He is completely egoless and will do anything that is asked of him. The guy is flat out gritty, can bang on the boards, and you will never hear a peep from him whether he plays 20 minutes in a game or gets a DNP-coaches decision.In my perfect, Knicks dream world, they will get a top 2 pick, sign Marc Gasol, have a rejuvenated and hungry Carmelo looking to prove himself as not just a scorer but a winner, and a roster filled out with some combination of talented, hungry, professional veterans along with youth who put winning above everything else. I truly believe Phil Jackson is the perfect guy to change this disaster of a season with a quick turn-around, creating a team ready to compete in the playoffs.
For a New York sports fan, 2015 is shaping up to be a year of epic misery. To conjure a single year when every team our family has rooted for has offered up so little to hope for, we’d have to go back to the mid-60s: the Horace Clarke Yankees, the “not yet Seaver” Mets, the ‘”not yet Namath” Jets, the “decades from greatness” Giants, and the “few years from greatness” Knicks.
And 2015 looks to equal that dismal period, with only the Giants offering even a glimmer of hope for a post-season run of any kind. Those sad words said, here is what this one fan wishes at least the two baseball teams would do going forward:
Yankees: Get younger and more athletic. For what it’s worth, I thought the Didi Gregorius trade was a spot on example of what Brian Cashman should be doing for a team that sees Texeira and Beltran looking pretty completely done, the starting rotation in shambles, and Headley and Drew not seeming like answers to any good questions. I guess the big question is whether you can really break down a big market team and make fans wait a few years for a meaningful, youth-driven rebuild. It’s the same problem vexing the Phillies. I think the answer has to be yes. And speaking of making fans wait, let’s move on to the masters of that…
Mets: Improve defensively. How can a GM claim to be rebuilding a team around young pitching while allowing his defense to be this dreadful, especially up the middle? The Mets infield has one defensive player who could be described as even competent, in David Wright at third. I’ll give them a pass for Duda at first, because 30 bombs from that corner spot is worth a lot, especially in this new post-steroids, low-power world. But Murphy and Flores manning the middle infield is a cruel defensive joke on a bunch of very talented, but also very young pitchers trying to establish themselves. Every ball that’s bobbled or that simply goes through is an unnecessarily tough thing for a young pitcher to have to deal with. There is some good defensive news: two thirds of the outfield, Lagares and Granderson, is stellar. But Cuddyer is the wrong outfielder, even the wrong Rockies outfielder, to have brought to Citifield with its still vast outfield. Why not Charlie Blackmon, who would have brought great defensive speed and some real base stealing abilities to a stadium made for those assets?
As for the Knicks, I’m going to defer to my younger son – byline CBoh – who is much better versed on Knick needs than his dad, and whose posting will follow shortly. After that, his brother Bojo will weigh in on our Giants.