2015-2016 Knicks: Help Still Needed To Compete But This Season Was a Building Block
The 2015-2016 New York Knicks season started out as a season full of some promise. After a disastrous 17-65 record in the first full season of the Phil Jackson experiment many had left the Knicks for dead, especially after the drafting of Kristaps Porzingis with their fourth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. They made some free agent pickups signing Arron Afflalo among others but for the most part everyone expected much of the same from the Knickerbockers.
Then early in the season, the Knicks actually exceeded expectations as they were 20-20 on January 12th…and then the walls came crumbling down. Derek Fisher was fired as head coach in February and Kurt Rambis took over on an interim basis but by that point, it was all over. Any thoughts of making the playoffs as an eighth seed in a weak Eastern Conference was done and the Knicks finished the season 32-50, 15 games better than last year but still a disappointing season nonetheless.
What went wrong? Simple. You had a team with many new parts and some old parts that shouldn’t even be in the league anymore (see Jose Calderon) that didn’t mesh for the entire season. Add in a coach in Fisher who proved he wasn’t ready for this opportunity and showed it time and time again. That leaves you with a no-win situation for the team and management. Needless to say Jackson has a plan for how to approach this offseason and knows what he wants but a little help is always needed. I hereby offer my services to Phil Jackson as his general manager (Steve Mills doesn’t do much as it is) and I will reveal three things he can do to make the New York Knicks better in the 2016-2017 season. Let’s start with the most important thing of all.
Hiring A Big Name Coach
I know that Phil wants to hire Kurt Rambis because of their relationship and Kurt’s familiarity with the Triangle Offense but this is a time to think outside of the box. The major issue for the Knicks the last two seasons was that the coaching was not up to snuff and Fisher was the major reason for that. Jackson hired Fisher so some of the blame goes to him but Derek Fisher was a disaster as a head coach and his departure was needed.
When the season ended, many believed that Tom Thibodeau would be a target for the Knicks before he took the Minnesota job as head coach and president of the team. The search has now moved to David Blatt, who was ousted out of Cleveland after an alleged player revolt against him and his style of play. Mark Jackson seems to be a longshot for the job as it’s apparently down to Blatt and Rambis which is not as attractive as pursuing Luke Walton or Patrick Ewing. It seems to be a forgone conclusion that Rambis will get the job full-time and it’s a decision that I don’t agree with.
Spend Money Or Draft Younger, Faster Guards
At first glance the Knicks are set at the three frontcourt positions. You have Carmelo Anthony at small forward with Porzingis at the power forward position. Add in Robin Lopez at center and you have 3/5ths of your starting lineup set. That leaves the two guard positions that you have to fill and those were the major problem areas for the Knicks this year.
As mentioned earlier Jose Calderon should not be allowed to start in the NBA ever again and Arron Afflalo and his defensive prowess fell off the face of the earth towards the end of the season. This offseason will be a time for New York to retool the guard position…and pray that Afflalo doesn’t exercise his $8 million option for the 2016-2017 season. The major names that comes to mind in free agency is Jordan Clarkson from the Lakers and DeMar DeRozan from the Raptors. Clarkson is a restricted FA meaning that LA could match any deal he gets. DeRozan has a player option which he will most likely not exercise and will be looking for a max contract somewhere. He should get it and we should be one of the teams that gives it to him.
The NBA Draft is a little tricker. Barring any trades, the Knicks does not have a draft pick in this year’s draft and it’s a shame. This draft class is deep and full of guards that could have an impact in the NBA like Kris Dunn from Providence Jamal Murray from Kentucky.. There is still time for New York to make a move but it is more than likely that they will not mortgage anymore of their future than they have in the past. So free agency is their only option and they have many places they can go with the cap room they have.
Expand And Retool The Westchester Knicks
The Knicks D-League affiliate almost seems completely separated from the NBA team. The NBDL was created so affiliate teams could model their style of play and expectations to their NBDL team to set those players up to eventually be promoted to the NBA. It seems that for the most part that plan is not being used as NBDL teams, like the Knicks, are running their own offenses and doing nothing like their NBA counterparts.
For the Knicks, the Westchester team is not being ran as the “major league” team. That is not properly equipping those payers for a spot with the Knicks as only Jimmer Fredette and Thanasis Antetokounmpo were the only Knick call-ups this season. The Knicks must begin replenishing their Westchester franchise and use that team as an legitimate developmental system to get players for the NBA by teaching them what they need to know for the Knicks. It’s the only way the younger players will be ready for a call-up and ready to play pivotal minutes and not just play in garbage time. Just look at players like Danny Green or Hassan Whiteside as examples.
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