Culture of Hoops

How can Phil Jackson fix the New York Knicks?

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

You know what situation the New York Knicks are in right now.

Phil Jackson is on board, likely followed by Steve Kerr. Mike Woodson is out, and it’s looking more and more that Carmelo Anthony will be shown the door as well.

New York will likely do everything they can to overhaul their roster this summer like they did their front office to hopefully skip the rebuilding process and simply reload for a playoff run in 2014-15. But what exactly needs to happen for a team starting over with a new coach and new star for that to be a realistic goal?

1. Agree to a sign-and-trade with Carmelo Anthony.

It already sounds like the Knicks have accepted that Melo will be gone, as evidenced by Phil Jackson’s comments recently that New York will be happy with him or without him. And as much as it’s fun to go “scorched Earth” and want nothing to do with helping Anthony move to a new home, realistically, the Knicks are best served to agree to a sign-and-trade that would not only get them something of value back for Carmelo, but also likely send some other players packing along with him.

The idea of packaging him with Amar’e Stoudemire (due over $23 million next season) or Andrea Bargnani ($12 million) is likely too rich for anyone’s blood, but J.R. Smith (owed two more years at over $12 million total) and/or Raymond Felton (two years, almost $9 million)? It’s reasonable to think they could be along for the ride.

2. Trade Tyson Chandler for youth and/or draft picks.

After the disappointing 2013-14 season, Tyson Chandler immediately spoke out, saying he didn’t believe in “wasting seasons.” Who could blame him? The man turns 32 this year. He signed with New York to contend for championships, not slump to the lottery.

Make no mistake, Chandler can definitely still play. Although he missed 27 games this season, he managed to average nearly 9 points and 10 rebounds in 30 minutes per game while anchoring a defense that ranked eighth in points per game.

Should the Knicks start shopping Chandler, there will be plenty of contenders interested in acquiring him in exchange for some building blocks they aren’t using in the meantime. Oklahoma City immediately comes to mind, considering they currently have Kendrick Perkins and several young players (Perry Jones, Steven Adams, Jeremy Lamb, Andre Roberson) that they hardly play in the regular season and not at all in the playoffs.

3. Keep Amar’e and Bargnani?

I know. As insane as it sounds, Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani actually are worth keeping around as the Knicks rebuild. For one, good luck finding takers for their huge contracts. But secondly, they actually are decent fits as floor-spacing big men as the Knicks transition to the triangle offense.

Their powers combined, Amar’e and Bargnani averaged 25.2 points and 10.2 rebounds in 52.5 minutes per game this season. Although they’re horrible at defense, that’s not a bad haul from your power forward combo. If the two can continue spreading the floor and maintaining their production until their contracts expire, that is a win for New York.

Also, having a guaranteed defensive liability on the floor at all times also gives extra incentive to play the likes of Iman Shumpert as many minutes as possible, which is a huge plus.

4. Develop some of the existing assets.

The Knicks actually have some nice pieces already: Shumpert, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and even Cole Aldrich, who has consistently had solid per-minute numbers and showed a spark at the end of this season. With limited draft picks in tow for the next few seasons, now is the time to find out how much these guys can really do.

5. Take a chance on a project or two.

The Knicks are already rolling the dice with a rookie head coach in Steve Kerr. With nothing else to lose, now is the time to take a chance on a few other projects. The likes of Jimmer Fredette and Royce White come to mind. Low risk for a team that is likely to miss the playoffs again anyway, high reward if one or more of their projects hits big. With the immediate future of the East cloudy at best, that could be all it takes for New York’s rebuild on the fly.

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