Tag Archives: Amar’e Stoudemire

Phil Jackson and the Knicks: A Recipe for Success

By: Prad

Phil Jackson has previously been associated with the New York Knicks. And it was a winning time for the team. Although not as significant as others on the team, Jackson was a member of the Knicks’ teams that won Championships in 1970 and 1973. He was last affiliated with the Knicks on April 23, 1978 when he played his final game in uniform for the team. Much has changed in the Big Apple since his departure 35 years ago. The team has failed to capture a ring since that ’73 title run and the team up to this point in the season is moving in the wrong direction. 

Can the Zen Master turn things around? Courtesy of Bleacher Report
Can the Zen master turn things around?
Courtesy of Bleacher Report

Last season, the Knicks finished with an impressive 54-28 record and the second seed in the Eastern Conference. They won their first playoff series in a decade and it looked like the Knicks were finally coming back from a decade of turbulence that included front office mishaps and issues with player personnel. It appeared as if the Knicks were building a head of steam and could potentially make another big step by making the Eastern Conference Finals this season. This hope faded quickly though as the Knicks held a 3-13 record by the beginning of December. Head Coach Mike Woodson was blamed for the dismal record, but no single member of the team could possibly have taken full responsibility for the atrocious start. The team was out of playoff contention and the team looked at this season as a failure until very recently.

New York has been climbing itself out of the hole that it dug for itself in the past couple weeks. Prior to the official signing of Phil Jackson, the Knicks were riding a six game winning streak and hitting its stride. The Knicks faced its biggest challenge in the past few weeks when it played Indiana tonight. I don’t know if it was Phil Jackson’s presence at Madison Square Garden, but the Knicks played some of their best ball of the season during that win against a gritty Pacers team. They currently stand four games out of the final playoff spot in the poor performing East. The momentum from the last week and an easy slate of upcoming games may turn things around in New York this season. The Jackson signing can’t hurt either.

More importantly, the five-year $60 million signing of Phil Jackson as President of Basketball Operations provides optimism for the future of the franchise. The Zen master, who holds the highest winning percentage (70.2% at 1155-485) in NBA history, now takes on his first front office position. Nobody knows for certain if his winning ways will translate to him as an executive.  Yet, his signing certainly provides the aforementioned motivation for his players to work harder. And he knows what kinds of things need to be in place for the wins to pile up.

The Knicks can give Melo more money than any other club this offseason Courtesy of Sports Illustrated
The Knicks can give Melo more money than any other club this offseason
Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

At this point, his top priority must be to sign Carmelo Anthony, who is expected to opt out of his current deal. New York can offer him almost $30 million more than any other team this summer at five years for $129 million. It has also recently been reported that Melo is willing to change his role within the offense and even take less money if Jackson believes that it can bolster the team’s performance and chances at a title in the near future.

Past this, Jackson does not seem to have much room to operate. Andrea Bargnani, Tyson Chandler, and Amar’e Stoudemire are all signed until the end of next year at a whopping $50 million. This doesn’t allow for much room this offseason but Jackson will have to make a splash in free agency the following summer. This lack of financial flexibility causes problems for a team that has mediocre role players. No solution is in sight unless Jackson can work his magic by restructuring a few contracts in the next several months.

All signs also point to Jackson dismissing Coach Mike Woodson at the conclusion of this season. It will be interesting to see who Jackson picks to succeed the underperforming Woodson. He might pick someone who implements the triangle offense, a game plan Jackson made popular during his tenures with the Bulls and Lakers. Ultimately, Jackson will be the one shaping the offense for years to come with his acquisitions and shaping of the roster.

Knicks owner James Dolan will give Phil Jackson full freedom with the fate of the franchise Courtesy of NY Daily News
Knicks owner James Dolan will give Phil Jackson full freedom with the future of the franchise
Courtesy of NY Daily News

Nevertheless, the fate of the franchise essentially rests in Jackson’s hands as owner James Dolan will give him unlimited room to operate. This is pretty difficult for Dolan, who’s basically influenced every single decision the Knicks have made since the turn of the century. Jackson has the opportunity to bring a glimmer of hope to a fan base that hasn’t seen much success in quite some time. His recent signing with New York ushers in a new era of optimism and hopefully wins for a club that has been struggling since his departure three and a half decades ago.

NY Knicks Secondary Scoring Option

By: Prad, THE New York Knicks Fan

JR Smith
JR Smith

JR Smith will most likely not wear a New York Knick uniform next year. Since JR Smith opted out of his contract, the Knicks need to fill his void if he decides not to re-sign. From a Knicks fan perspective: “give him everything he wants and literally match any offer. Without him we’re not getting close to advancing out of the first round.” Glen Grunwald’s perspective is probably completely different though. This is the harsh reality that Knick fans must face. The Knicks don’t exactly have too many good options at replacing the Knicks secondary scorer after Carmelo Anthony. Amar’e Stoudemire, Steve Novak, Ray Felton, and Iman Shumpert all come to mind as possible candidates. Although Tyson Chandler is one of the best defenders in the NBA, he is void of any offensive talent. His high field goal percentage is in part because every other shot he takes is a dunk. This is also assuming that Chris Copeland, the three point specialist, doesn’t re-sign. Last season, he produced 8.7 PPG but in a very limited capacity (15.4 MPG). No matter how inefficient JR Smith was in the postseason, this year’s regular season was his coming out party, averaging 18.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in his sixth man role. In order for the Knicks to even reach the Eastern Conference Semi Finals again, another Knick needs to step up and accept the challenge.

Amar'e Stoudemire
Amar’e Stoudemire

Amar’e Stoudemire’s Case

STAT was paid more than Tyson Chandler this year and about half a million less than Carmelo Anthony and is going to be paid more than either next year. It’s a combined total of $41,628,692 with another $23,410,988 coming his way during the 2014/2015 NBA season. Yet, injuries have derailed him the last couple season. He played in 29 games and has averaged 23.5 MPG and 14.2 PPG. His first season in New York, 2010 was his best when he averaged 25.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks a game. His numbers were actually a little higher until the February of that season, when Carmelo came to the Knicks. Critics of the trade say that Melo and STAT can’t coexist and it has been proven in the last two and a half years. They have a point: Amar’e has averaged fewer numbers each subsequent season and his worst season in NY was last, 14.2 PPG and 5.0 RPG. But, what these seemingly knowledgeable critics haven’t accounted for, is Stoudemire’s limited play due to injuries. In the last two seasons, injuries have derailed his playing time to the point of him only playing 76 games and the latter 29 saw him not starting. So, it’s not a matter of them not coexisting but an alternate factor comes into play. If Stoudemire played 36 minutes last season, which he’s done a few times in his career, he could’ve scored around 21 PPG. But, because of his injuries, I don’t look to him performing and taking on a scoring burden next season. Stoudemire will most probably never be the same player that we saw in 2010.

Steve Novak
Steve Novak

Steve Novak’s Case

Novak is a great and an efficient three point shooter who led the league in three point efficiency a couple years ago. Beyond that he sucks. His defense is poor because of his athletic ability and qualities. He lacks speed, strength, agility, and toughness. He can’t pass or grab boards. He averages 1.9 RPG and 0.4 APG in 20.3 minutes. The rebounding stat is pretty heinous considering he is 6 foot 10.  His scoring beyond the three is not that great. He only averages 6.6 points a game. He’ll be lucky if he could even score half of what the eventual secondary scorer will attain. It was my mistake for even putting him in this discussion.

Raymond Felton
Raymond Felton

Raymond Felton’s Case

I think Ray Felton is the most viable candidate to take on the job. He is the current starting point guard who touches the ball every possession down the court. He averaged 13.9 PPG and 5.5 APG this past season. He brings a lot of energy to the team, but might get too excited sometimes. He decides to take layups at inappropriate times when there might be two big men in the paint. Not surprisingly, he is one of the most blocked players on the team. This questionable play calling might be him channeling his inner JR Smith. His physical fitness was in much question a couple seasons ago but has improved tremendously this season and look for him to improve even more in agility and speed for this upcoming season. During his first stint with the Knicks, he averaged 17.1 points, 9.0 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game in 38.4 minutes a game. Unfortunately for him, Felton was a part of the massive Carmelo deal and got dealt to the Nuggets. Hopefully, he can put up these kind of numbers next season without a selfish JR Smith. He has proven though that he can thrive in a Knicks system and I look to him to step up to the challenge and have a much better season next year.

Iman Shumpert
Iman Shumpert

Iman Shumpert’s Case

I think he’s the most exciting prospect to become a bigger scorer and have a bigger role in the Knicks offseason. Everything about him excites me, his athleticism, ability to knock down threes (39.6%), perimeter defense, and high top fade. Shump came back from a torn ACL this year and played bench minutes (22.1 MPG) but will definitely become more productive next year. Yet, it’s ambiguous how much of an immediate improvement and impact we’ll see from him next season. But, he is definitely an integral part of the Knick future.

Melo clearly needs a partner to help the Knicks go deeper in the playoffs. We all know that he has his streaks that can span quarters, games, and even series. But, the other times when his shot isn’t falling or on the bench, he needs somebody to take over the offense. After all, he averaged 37 minutes a game this past season. The other time, worth almost a quarter was when JR Smith got a large chunk of his points and when he was the primary scorer in the second unit. I’m only hoping that another secondary scorer doesn’t have to be selected and the Knicks can hold on to Smith because of the Knicks’ lack of options.

All Stats and Pictures are from ESPN