By Jake Hyman
PSDC NBA Insider
Say it ain’t so.
We sit here in early July; the early frenzy of free agency calming to a simmer, the NBA Draft in the rear-view mirror, and the New York Knicks being in a state of utter chaos.
“Wait, what’s that?
No, no, you must be mistaken. They had to have overpaid for someone in free agency. I mean, come on, they had almost $30 million in cap space. It’s the Knicks we’re talking about here.
They didn’t? They spent wisely?
OK fine but they must have completely bungled the draft. Phil Jackson must have traded the fourth overall selection for some middle-aged, on-the-decline, overpaid has-been.
Oh OK but he took a project European player. That won’t ever work out.
(watches Kristaps Porzingis’ highlight tape)
OK so what, one big sharpshooting 7-footer in the draft? Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
He traded for another first round pick? Who’d he take, another project player, stashing this one away in Europe?
(Sees that the Knicks acquired an NBA-ready talent in Jerian Grant with the 19th overall pick for Tim Hardaway Jr.)
Now that you have taken a glimpse into the conversations I have with myself in the shower, let me break it down for you:
Phil done good.
There’s no need for me to delve into the history of the front office failures of this organization. There are plenty and I don’t have the time nor the mental fortitude to go through that right now.
But, after a 17-65 season, Jackson and the Knicks needed to do something impactful to convince fans that the current front office had a direction, let alone a pulse.
After a historically awful season, questionable moves, and weird, cryptic tweets, it was fair to wonder if Jackson was up for the job.
His age and health could rightfully be called into question only one year into his five-year deal to be the team’s president.
In fact, it is still completely fair to do so. But after the last two weeks, Jackson has proved at least one thing: he has rid the New York Knicks of the perpetual front office ineptitude that has crippled this organization for the last 15 years.
He did that by signing useful, role-defined players like Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo to cap-friendly contracts, desperately filling some holes in the roster.
He did that by drafting the aforementioned Porzingis and Grant, paving the way for the team to actually attempt to develop it’s own nest of young talent.
He did that by proving once and for all that team owner James Dolan does not have the same power or influence he once carried.
If Dolan still maintained the same level of authority that he once had (and trust me, some of the New York media wants you believe he still does), he would not have tolerated Jackson selecting a raw prospect in Porzingis, bypassing more NBA-ready players such as Justise Winslow or Emmanuel Mudiay.
He also would not have been happy with the signings of mid-level pieces like Lopez and Afflalo, instead pushing for a former star and a current problem child like Rajon Rondo.
No, none of that would have been cool if Dolan still meddled in day-to-day operations.
Does he still have some influence? Sure, he’s an owner and he has every right to be as involved as he wants. But it is clear who is in charge of the Knicks today.
It’s Phil Jackson and he appears to only be getting started.