The New York Knicks definitely needed a big change. The team was supposed to be contending for the top seeds in the Eastern Conference by now, almost a month prior to the end of the regular season. Instead, it’s fighting hard to even make it to the playoffs. In fact, if it wasn’t for the Knicks’ latest five-game winning streak, they would have been in an even tougher position at the moment. The Knicks needed to shake things up and they did. Not by trading one of their players or even Carmelo Anthony. They did it by hiring one of the most respected and admired presences in the NBA world, Phil Jackson. The big question now is, can the Zen Master really take the team to the next level? Can he be the one to change the course of the franchise and place it to the top of the league? After all, that’s what the Knicks were supposed to be when they acquired Carmelo Anthony.
The thing is that Phil Jackson will have to take care of a bunch of things to put the Knicks back on track, on a championship course. He will need time to make his impact felt most probably. That’s because the Knicks curry the burden of some big fat contracts, like Amar’e Stoumire’s, who is in the books for $21 million this season and an amazing $23 million next season. Tyson Chandler will also become $14.5 richer next season and Andrea Bargnani is owed $12 million. Surprisingly, the Knicks are the second most expensive team in the league, trailing only the Brooklyn Nets. And still, they might not even make the playoffs this year.
It’s obvious that Phil Jackson can’t do much about those big contracts but to just wait till they expire, after the end of the next season. Of course, the Zen Master could still try to search for a trade, with Andrea Bargnani being the most likely one to be traded. However, it’s almost sure that the biggest changes in the team will happen during the summer of the 2015. That doesn’t mean the Knicks will just sit back and wait for the next summer to arrive. On the contrary, the team could perform a bunch of moves this summer, in an effort to shake things up. This could include the movement of role players like J.R. Smith or even Iman Shumpert, in an effort to find complementary pieces for Carmelo Anthony.
The first and most probably biggest challenge Phil Jackson will face as the new president of the New York Knicks is trying to re-sign Carmelo Anthony. Several times earlier this season Melo has expressed his desire to become a free agent. This doesn’t mean, of course, that he will be joining a different team. It’s just an indication that he will not sign with New York that easily. Phil Jackson will have to put all his magic into the effort of retaining keeping Melo in New York. He will have to prove to the superstar forward, but also to the entire Knicks nation, that under him, the team can really find success. After all, Carmelo wants to contend for a ring. He will have to think twice about signing a lengthy contract with a team that has little chances to make it to the top of the NBA. The positive aspect of this story is that Carmelo admitted that he would accept a pay cut if that was the necessary thing for the team to chase the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Phil Jackson has no time to waste. He should have already started to think about the next moves he will be making. The Knicks hold just two first round draft picks over the next four years. This means the Knicks might have to work on their youngsters and try to develop them into significant pieces of the team, ones that could support Melo with consistency. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert have already shown that they have much talent. All that’s needed for them at the moment is to find the right mentor, who can guide them and help them improve. Of course, Phil Jackson seems to be the perfect man for the gig. After decades of experience as a coach, dozens of awards and as many rings as any coach would be jealous of, Phil Jackson is certainly the best one – and maybe the only one – to shake things up.
Simply put, Phil Jackson knows what to do. He knows how to win. He is a proven champion, he knows the game as good as only a few people around the league know. In other words, if the Knicks had to find that one guy, who could change the course of the franchise, that’s Phil Jackson. The fans of the team should definitely be excited with this addition. Although they might not see an instant difference in the team’s playing style, the momentum boost the team already received is big.
One of the changes Jackson is expected to make now that he took over as the new president of the team, is to bring in a new Head Coach. Mike Woodson’s job has been hanging from a thin line since the first months of the season. Apparently, his time in New York is close to an end. There are several candidates for the Head Coach position, with Lionel Hollins and Steve Kerr being two of the names that are heard the most. It’s still unclear which coach Phil Jackson will trust. However, it’s almost certain that we’ll see a change sooner than later, maybe after the end of the season.
In general, we should an overall change in the New York Knicks organization. The team is currently not an elite one in the East but it has always wanted to make it to that level, at least since the acquisition of Melo. Could Phil Jackson take the team to that elite level?