It’s been quite a basketball season so far. Being a Knicks and University of Michigan fan, I’ve been significantly disappointed with both teams. And I’m going to go out on a limb and say Phil Jackson’s first year with the Knicks isn’t really going as planned.
Other than the Timberwolves, New York has the worst record in the NBA. The Knicks lost 26 games out of 27 in one stretch, and set a franchise record with 16 straight losses. The Knicks are 28th in the league in points per game, and 28th in points per game differential.
Like I said, probably not what Phil Jackson envisioned as his first season in New York. However, knowing that this season is basically hopeless, Jackson has made moves to help for next year.
Recently, the Knicks traded Iman Shumpert and JR Smith to the Cavaliers. The Knicks didn’t receive any notable players in return, but this transaction got rid of two big contracts. Additionally, Phil released Samuel Dalembert, which saved a decent amount of money too.
With only a few players under contract after this year, the Knicks will have a ton of money to spend on free agents. Also, hoping the Knicks lose the majority of their remaining games, they will have a top-3 pick in the draft.
Personally, I think the Knicks should get rid of Jose Calderon. I don’t think he’s the long-term answer at point guard, and it would give Phil more money to spend if Calderon wasn’t under contract.
Nowadays, you need a great point guard to be successful. Let’s take look at the good NBA teams and their point guards. The Warriors with Steph Curry, the Clippers with Chris Paul, the Spurs with Tony Parker, the Trail Blazers with Damien Lillard… I could go on and on. Point is, the best teams have great point guards.
Therefore, if I were Phil Jackson, my first priority would be point guard. Goran Dragic, of the Suns, has given the impression that he would like to play for New York. Another potential target is Reggie Jackson, of the Thunder. I’d prefer Dragic, but both would help the Knicks get back to the playoffs.
In terms of the rest of the lineup, here’s how I see it. Despite swirling rumors, I don’t think Marc Gasol will end up coming to New York next year. He’s a starter in the All-Star game, and I doubt he’ll leave Memphis. That leaves a vacant position at center.
If the Knicks (hopefully) can secure the 1st pick in the draft, I think it’s a no-brainer. Jahlil Okafor, Duke’s center, has shown incredible talent and potential. And, even if the Knicks don’t get the 1st pick, they could always take Karl Towns, Kentucky’s center.
So, I’m hoping the Knicks fill the center position in the draft. I think Carmelo Anthony is at his best when playing power forward. At this position, Carmelo gets favorable matchups which makes it easier for him to generate points. That leaves small forward and shooting guard.
Tobias Harris, the Magic forward, publicly stated that he wanted to win with the Knicks. He will be a free agent this summer. If Phil signs him, that only leaves shooting guard. Tim Hardaway Jr. has a great deal of potential, but I don’t think he’s ready to start on a winning team.
Ideally, the Knicks would sign Bulls guard Jimmy Butler. However, there’s a good chance he stays in Chicago. Another good option is Wesley Matthews, from the Trail Blazers.
A lot of factors will play into the reconstruction of the New York Knicks in the upcoming months, but here’s my ideal lineup going into next year:
PG- Goran Dragic/Reggie Jackson
SG- Jimmy Butler/Wes Matthews
SF- Tobias Harris
PF- Carmelo Anthony
C- Jahlil Okafor
That lineup has a solid balance of experience and youth, and a lot of talent. For now, I just have to hope the Knicks get their younger players experience and lose all of their games. And, despite their horrible record, I think (and hope) Phil Jackson can make the Knicks a playoff-team next year.