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Patience? Yes, Patience
Like any other Knicks fan coming into this offseason, I had big expectations in regards to potential moves that Phil Jackson would make to improve the team. It’s in our nature to hope for a big splash in free agency, embedded in our DNA to be excited about drafting the next young superstar in the NBA Draft. Hell, we feel spoiled at times because of all the incompetence we’ve suffered through for the last 15 seasons. With a high draft pick and bundles of cash to spend, you couldn’t blame us for salivating over the prospect of flanking Carmelo Anthony with the most elite basketball talent available.
Instead, we’ve gotten the exact opposite. No flashy names. No large, crippling contracts. In a summer where everybody and their mother is getting a maximum-value deal, New York has played it safe by bringing in the right role players. Only Robin Lopez (4 years, $54 million) received big money from the Knicks this offseason, and even that deal seems like a bargain compared to what other frontcourt players will earn. He, along with Aaron Afflalo (2 years, $16 million), Derrick Williams (2 years, $10 million) and Kyle O’Quinn (4 years, $16 million in a sign-and-trade), provide the Knicks with players who will do nothing more than play their game and not do too much on the court. Let’s not forget about the Draft, where Phil went with the biggest high risk/high reward talent in Kristaps Porzingis and traded for Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant.
It’s been a great breath of fresh air to see the Knicks’ braintrust change course in building a team. It shows that Jackson has really been paying attention to how the Knicks operated over the years and wants to put an end to the ineptitude. He’s always understood that TEAMS win championships no matter how talented your best player is. I’d even go as far as to say that Phil doesn’t really concern himself with what Melo might want in this rebuilding process. Newsday’s Al Iannazzone touched on this idea in an article yesterday:
Phil Jackson hasn’t spoken with Carmelo Anthony since he revamped the Knicks’ roster and doesn’t seem concerned about his franchise player’s patience level.
Jackson doesn’t know if he has assembled a playoff team, and that might not sit well with Anthony, who is 31 and coming off knee surgery.
“We’re a team sport,” Jackson said Monday night. “When we’re putting a team together, that’s our first priority — how do we make a team that works together? That’s the important aspect. How this all comes together is still a mystery for us. We’ve got five months to kind of get into it here.
“Obviously, Carmelo is a guy that is a premier player, we understand that. But it’s a team game. And it has to fit together.”
Jackson reiterated that it was by design that the Knicks didn’t go star hunting. “I don’t look at basketball that way,” he said. “That’s what we’ve done over the years in New York. That’s not what I’m doing. We’re going after solid players that will step into vacuums and play ball, and if we have a system that we play basketball together with, that will all work out.”
It’s about damn time!
For all the Knicks fans out there who may not be overly excited with rebuilding, I merely ask that you trust Phil Jackson. He’s won 11 rings as a coach for a reason, and it certainly wasn’t by relying solely on one elite player. There are some really solid players coming into the fold at MSG this season, and they will definitely bring brighter days to the Garden.