SPANISH HARLEM, NY – Mary Mother of Christ! I read the best news early yesterday morning. New York Knicks owner Jim Dolan was “weighing” the future of Team President Phil Jackson (per Adrian Wojnarowski). Then to top it off, I wake up to the news that the team will be parting ways with Jackson… very much to my surprise. I didn’t believe Dolan would fire him, especially after stating that he wanted Jackson to fulfill his 5 year contract. What a great day for all Knick fans but the big questions still remain and some more were added with this firing.
The big question many will ask is “why wasn’t this done sooner?” especially since it was recently stated that Phil Jackson’s contract option was picked up for the final 2 years. Knowing this now, would the team have drafted differently with Jackson gone? Probably yes but I can’t say for sure… was drafting Frank Ntilikina the right move, or was Dennis Smith Jr. the better option… only time will. In this day of offensive point guards dominating the league it would seem the better option was Smith but I really like that Ntilikina is known for his defense. For all the points the team scored last year, their bigger issue was on the defensive side. With Ntilikina the Knicks finally have a player that lock down opposing point guards, which is what this team needed even if other players were seen to have a better upside.
Since the Knicks is still in rebuild mode, who will Dolan hire to run this organization? The media has already thrown out names like David Griffin, formally of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who you might remember fleeced Jackson when trading for both JR Smith and Iman Shumpert. Also mentioned was Masai Ujiri who also fleeced the Knicks on the Carmelo Anthony trade with the Denver Nuggets and again with the Toronto Raptors on the Andrea Bargnani trade. You get the hint here… if you can’t beat them, pay them to join you. Get the best guy available for the job and if he is not available, make it worth their wild. Hire someone that is focused on the modern game of basketball, good with players and agents. A person that commands respect but is also well liked in NBA circles, something that Phil Jackson overlooked during his time here. I don’t expect miracles but I would like to finally have the right person for the job, whoever that may be.
The most important aspect of this firing will be that the team will be able to run a modern NBA offense. I don’t know what the team will do with Jeff Hornacek but he certainly deserves another year to prove what he can do with HIS offense. Last year Hornacek walked the company line with Jackson as President and some players didn’t respect him for that but this year he finally gets to do things his way. I’m not saying this team will be good or make the playoffs but at least the direction of this team will not be held down by old school thinking that seemed to be Jackson’s strong suit. I’m even guessing more free agents will be inclined to take the Knicks call now that he is gone.
Finally, there are a lot of holes to plug and most importantly, who will lead this organization going forward… but for now we get to enjoy the uneasy feeling of what will happen next, which is a lot better than the direction they were headed with Phil Jackson. I will say this though, Dolan has been hated in the city for a long and it took a bold move to fire Jackson after relinquishing all control. For the first time, I say “Thank you Jim Dolan”.
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