Tag Archives: Andrea Bargnani

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.

Who Did Better in the Bargnani Trade?

By: Prad

Andrea Bargnani will be wearing a New York Knicks uniform next season. Talks between the Toronto Raptors and Knicks have concluded and the Knicks will be trading away Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, and a first round pick in 2016 to along with second round picks in each 2014 and 2017. The former #1 overall pick was drafted by Toronto in 2006. He holds career averages of 15.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, and a 82.5 % free throw efficiency. His lackluster ability to pull down rebounds is odd considering he is a seven footer. This is attributed to him not going inside as frequently as other big men. He tends to take shots from outside the key and perimeter jumpers along the three point arc. I certainly believe this trade will benefit the NY Knicks in the foreseeable future.

Andrea Bargnani Courtesy of Bleacher Report
Andrea Bargnani
Courtesy of Bleacher Report

New York Knicks’ Side of the Deal

Although he was barred from playing last season due to an elbow injury, I think that he can contribute some solid minutes for the Knicks. The Knicks played smaller than usual this season when Carmelo Anthony was starting at the power forward position. They traditionally had a guard at the three spot this season. With a healthy Amar’e Stoudemire and Bargnani, Carmelo can shift back to his natural position, small forward. Either Stoudemire or Bargnani will be the starter but they will essentially split minutes and each play around 25 minutes. They can play even more if Coach Woodson decides to go with a bigger lineup. But, that might not happen because it will force Melo to move to shooting guard. Plus, the Knicks needed to obtain a big man this offseason since their only true big men are Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, but Stoudemire was plagued with injuries last year. Some big man needs to be a part of the bench if Stoudemire were to start at the four spot. The only part of this deal that I disagree with is the fact that the Knicks gave the Raptors THREE draft picks. The Knicks don’t have too much young talent already. Trading away these draft picks will not be great for the future of the organization. The gamble that the Knicks are willing to take with their short term plan, could not end up being worthwhile in a few years. And that attitude is from a Knicks fan that roots hard for his team. However, it is clear that the Knicks are trying to win a title in the next three years. I believe that they want to win an NBA Championship by 2016, a feat which they haven’t accomplished since 1973, 40 years ago. If Bargnani fits well into Woodson’s system and can coexist with Stoudemire at the four spot which I think will occur, then the risk they take by giving up future talent and attaining Bargnani will be quite rewarding.

Marcus Camby Courtesy of ESPN
Marcus Camby
Courtesy of ESPN

Toronto Raptors’ Side of the Deal

They traded a player who was the centerpiece of their offense in the past few years with the exception of last year. The aforementioned injury to Bargnani prevented him to play many games last season. He was limited to 28.7 minutes a game in 35 games. In return, they received a once defensive juggernaut who has expectedly aged over his 17 year career. Camby doesn’t have close to what he had almost seven years ago when he won the Defensive Player of the Year award. He averaged 1.8 points and 3.3 rebounds to go along with 0.6 blocks and 0.3 steals last year with the Knicks. He was drafted by the Raptors in 1996 and stayed with them for two years until he was traded to the Knicks in ’98 for his first stint with the team. In addition, Steve Novak is a very efficient three point specialist, but that’s the problem. He’s a “specialist”, besides shooting threes, he can’t do very much else. He’s 6’10” but can’t drive in the post, defend well, or even rebound well for an almost seven foot athlete. In the last two seasons with the Knicks, Novak has averaged 1.9 boards a game. His atrocious defense is due to his lack of athleticism for an NBA player. He’s not fast, agile, or strong enough to drive in the post. And the last player that they acquired in the trade, Quentin Richardson is the last man on the bench, the 12th man. He played one game this whole past regular season. In the playoffs he played in a total of five games averaging 2.8 minutes a game. What I mentioned in the Knicks section is important though. The Raptors got draft picks through the deal, which could serve them well during a rebuilding process in the future. Ultimately though, the Knicks got the better side of the trade.

Steve Novak Courtesy of NY Times
Steve Novak
Courtesy of NY Times