The New York Knicks are making a great case to be the worst team in the NBA, which is what no fan of the team wants to be. Despite bringing in a new President of Basketball Operations, 11-time NBA champion head coach Phil Jackson, and a new head coach, in Derek Fisher, who was playing in the NBA 12 months ago, the team has regressed in every possible way.
Carmelo Anthony has struggled with injuries and with his shot, Jose Calderon has been disappointing (especially considering the price he cost the team over the summer), and almost every other player has been poor.
The fans are losing patience:
There have already been large sums of fans calling for Derek Fisher to be fired. Many Knicks faithful are losing faith in Phil Jackson. But that is simply unfair. Jackson and Fisher each have a plan, and believe it or not, they’ve been executing it perfectly.
Phil Jackson recently came out and apologized for the Knicks struggles:
How, you may ask, does assembling a team that has amassed an NBA worst 10-42 record, resemble anything close to a “plan?” The Knicks have lost 4 in a row. Their home record is 7-19. They have become the laughing stock of the NBA. Not even the 76ers, who came into this season with aspirations of being historically bad, have scraped the bottom of the barrel quite like the Knicks. It has been tough to watch.
But this was meant to be a transitional season anyway. Jackson expected at best mid-table finish, maybe an 8th seed and an early exit in the playoffs. And while that idea evaporated very quickly, it might be for the best. Not only do the Knicks have a bevy of cap space to indulge themselves with this summer, but their poor play also could snag them a top 3 pick in a draft with three outstanding prospects: Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, Kentucky’s Karl Towns, and Emmanuel Mudiay.
While it is far from guaranteed that New York will be good next season– they could, of course, bomb the lottery, pick a low ceiling prospect, and then overpay Greg Monroe and Arron Afflalo to join Carmelo Anthony as the NBA’s least vaunted “Big Three” of all-time– Jackson has done all he can, and more.
Take the J.R. Smith trade for example. While Knicks fans may be upset at seeing Iman Shumpert depart, Jackson dealt the two guards in the Knicks best interests.The Knicks are even worse this year by losing their best perimeter defender and their second best scoring option, but at least they rid themselves of a bad contract and freed up some much needed cap space.
While Jackson is still very new at this whole President of Basketball Operations gig, he’s successfully kept the Knicks boatload of cap space while also tearing down the roster and keeping his superstar. It’s yet to be seen if Carmelo Anthony can be a star player on a championship team, a question that we might have the answer to in as short as 15 months.
While Jackson can do his wheeling and dealing in his executive offices, Derek Fisher has been tasked with doing the dirty work. He’s been given an on-court product that won’t win any games. Langston Galloway and Cole Aldrich are good stories, but in no way are they meant to be playing major roles on an NBA team. Fisher has been thrown directly into the fire, and has been subject to staunch and unfair criticism. He’s also been unfairly compared to fellow rookie head coach Steve Kerr, whose Golden State Warriors currently have the best record in the NBA (Fisher and the Knicks, of course, have the worst).
Fisher has done his best to keep the mood around the team optimistic. “We’re obviously at the beginning of a major transition of redefining New York Knicks basketball,” he said. “And so, the patience has to stay there at all times.”
A 10-42 record definitely demands patience from a five-time NBA Champion. When Derek Fisher was a player, he rarely had to deal with losing. His stints with Los Angeles, Utah, and Oklahoma City all were full of wins and playoff contention. Fisher is perhaps best known, as a player, for his clutch gene, especially in the playoffs.
Fisher will have to wait a while before he experiences the playoffs for the first time as head coach of the Knicks. But, like the team he coaches, Fisher is a project. He needs time to develop, to learn about coaching in the NBA, how to get the most out of players, how to teach the triangle offense. Fisher’s struggles this season will only help him down the road.
He isn’t doing a terrible job, either. According to Carmelo Anthony, he’s done everything he can to keep this roster together: “I think if it was anybody else in his position, I think this probably would’ve crumbled already,” Anthony said. “I think he’s doing a great job of keeping everybody focused on the task at hand and believing in what we’re trying to do.”
Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher have assembled and coached the worst team in the NBA thus far. And while that may be a tough pill to swallow as a Knicks fan, just know that both of them have a plan, and if executed, they can lead New York back into contention.
So sit back, watch the Knicks lose double digit game after double digit game, and get ready for the summer.