The New York Knicks have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA during the 2013-14 campaign, but that hasn’t stopped this immensely popular franchise from being incredibly active in the rumor mill at this late point in the season.
The team is clearly in need of a complete overhaul in order to return to prominence, which it may just get with a major front office hire said to be on the verge of happening.
Let’s take a look at that, plus highlight latest buzz concerning this powerhouse organization and more in Friday’s NBA rumor roundup.
Knicks Inching Closer to Zen Master Deal, Will Not Impact Melo’s Decision
Phil Jackson has been one of the most coveted people in the league since coaching his last game with the Lakers during the 2011 playoffs. While the 68-year-old is no longer interested in day-to-day duties on the sidelines, he is hoping to make an impact in the front office.
The Knicks are reportedly ready to give the Zen Master that opportunity, and it seems it may be finalized sooner than later. According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, Jackson will be part of the club within the next week, unless he changes his mind at the last minute.
Isola noted that team chairman James Dolan is reportedly offering $15 million annually for Jackson’s services and will cede complete control of the organization to the 13-time NBA champion (11 as a coach, two as a member of the Knicks). It is an unprecedented effort that the owner is hoping will bring a championship to New York for the first time in 41 years.
Former Knicks star and Jackson disciple Charles Oakley spoke extremely highly of this move, as per Ian Begley of ESPN New York:
He's someone with a brand, an ex-Knicks player, 11 championships -- he's got the whole resume. Having him is like taking a test and already having the answers. You can't go wrong when his hand is involved in what you're trying to do.
However, it remains to be seen if this hire will impact the outcome of superstar swingman Carmelo Anthony’s free-agency decision. Melo recently spoke with reporters about the team’s impending hire of Jackson and what effect it may have on him this offseason, as per ESPN New York:
I don't think it'll have any effect on me, just as far as what I'm thinking or my decision or anything like that. Like I said, I haven't talked to Phil yet, just to get his insight on a lot of things -- what's his plan, what's his future plan -- because everything's in his hands now.
The 29-year-old will be the premier talent on the open market if he opts out of the final year of his current contract.
He will be able to sign a max deal worth $129 million over five years with the Knicks or take his talents elsewhere for up to four years and $96 million, according to the same ESPN report.
There’s also the possibility of a sign-and-trade, which would allow Anthony the security and financial benefits the Knicks deal would give him but with another organization.
Let’s take a look at which club is said to be interested in pursuing that sort of deal for the star forward.
Houston Wants Anthony
One destination Melo may end up is Houston, as the Rockets are reportedly intrigued at the possibility of adding the elite scorer to their stable of superstars.
Marc Berman of the New York Post found the Texas-based team may attempt to put in a bid for Anthony this summer, even though it will have to pull off some crafty sign-and-trade maneuvers in order to carve out the cap space required to ink Melo to a deal.
Berman noted that the Knicks brass has reportedly spoken with Houston general manager Daryl Morey about bringing in disgruntled big man Omer Asik as part of a package for Melo. That deal would also likely have to include Jeremy Lin’s $15 million expiring contract and draft picks.
Rockets center Dwight Howard is already recruiting Anthony; publicly speaking on how being apart of a winning team presents more opportunities both on and off the court for a star player, as per Berman:
If you don’t win, you’re not going to get all the [off-court] stuff you want anyway. I saw that last year [in Los Angeles]. I was in the biggest market for the NBA, and we lost, so those [companies] aren’t going to be coming to you for losing.
When I was in Orlando, a small market, and we were winning. I was very popular with a lot of different deals on the table. So it’s more so about winning, and you’ve got to put yourself in a position to where you’re winning basketball games and you’re having fun doing it. Losing is not fun, and Melo wants to win.
What are the odds Anthony winds up in Houston?
Anthony would be the third star on a team that already includes Howard and premier shooting guard James Harden, forming a nucleus that could conceivably win the Western Conference and contend for championships as long as they remain together.
It’s definitely an interesting place for Anthony to wind up this offseason, but everything is still in play and could change at a moments notice—especially if Jackson is calling the shots as soon as next week.