It’s time to forget all about the New York Knicks that you know and, regrettably, love.
New York has certainly had one of the most disappointing seasons of any team in recent memory. But change is coming. It needs to.
Phil Jackson, the new team president, has taken on the ominous task of imploding the Knicks organization and sculpting it from the ground up. The only way to truly salvage the franchise is to first destroy it completely.
And while some parts of the following plan may be hard to digest, it’s all for the best. Temporary pain is worth long-term glory.
Let Melo walk
This is the hardest pill to swallow, and it’s best to get it out of the way first. The Knicks need to let Carmelo Anthony take his talents—and financial burden—elsewhere.
Should the Knicks let Melo go?
According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, the soon-to-be 30-year-old has already decided to ditch the Big Apple for greener pastures. But while Melo has said countless times that his top goal is winning a championship, New York can offer him more money than anywhere else.
Is a potential ring worth $30 million to Melo?
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News accurately laid out what many Knicks fans don’t want to accept—that the team is better off without Anthony in the long run:
Believe it or not there is a silver lining in what is becoming, for a number of reasons, the worst Knicks season in 25 years. This summer the Knicks get to start all over again and rebuild for real this time. And it should begin with them bidding farewell to their best player rather than locking up the soon-to-be 30-year-old Anthony for five more years at $127 million. Been there, done that.
It’s the perfect out for Anthony as well. He knows he’s in a bad marriage that will only get worse. But Melo’s a good guy who doesn’t want to damage his image by appearing to turn his back on New York. However, most reasonable folks would agree that leaving this disaster is the prudent career move for Anthony. He should sign with Chicago, Miami or the Lakers and pursue that elusive title. Contrary to what you may think, the Knicks will survive.
‘I really think if Carmelo left them, he may be doing them a favor,’ said the ex-GM, who has no ties to the Knicks. ‘They probably don’t see it that way. But in the long run, it’s probably doing them a favor.’
The logic is that it would give the Knicks a chance to rebuild. They’ll have a boatload of cap space in the summer of 2015 -- when Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani are scheduled to come off the books and Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge could hit the open market -- and a first-round draft pick.
Overpaying Anthony—who, like every player, will deteriorate over time—would probably keep the Knicks relevant for the next few years. But unless someone like Kevin Love or Rajon Rondo donned the blue and orange, too, a championship would be out of reach.
New York would’ve been wise to trade Melo at the deadline, perhaps hauling in a package similar to what they sent the Denver Nuggets three years back. That ship has sailed, although a sign-and-trade scenario this summer would be better than getting nothing in return.
The Knicks need to start over. And though it’ll be a tear-inducing farewell, they need to say goodbye to one of the league’s premier players.
Swap Chandler for a pick or a package
Tyson Chandler would be an elite center if he had any semblance of a post-up game. But sadly for the Knicks, the 12-year veteran is primarily limited to putbacks, alley-oops and an occasional pair of foul shots.
However, Chandler is one of the league’s top defensive big men. Having been crowned Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, the 31-year-old center would be perfect in a role with the Golden State Warriors or Oklahoma City Thunder—teams that lack an anchor in the middle but have no need for interior offense.
New York, however, needs a player like DeMarcus Cousins—a guy who can take his defender one-on-one. Other than Anthony, what else does it have offensively? Amar’e Stoudemire has a solid post game but can’t be counted on because of his chronic injuries.
Chandler’s value lies in the fact that he’s set to become a free agent after next season. And the Knicks need to capitalize on that.
B/R’s Dan Favale outlined why dealing Chandler could really benefit the Knicks:
Teams phoned New York about Chandler’s availability ahead of the Feb. 20 trade deadline, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, which will absolutely happen again this summer. Relatively mobile bigs who (typically) specialize in rotations and general help defense are hard to find.
Chandler’s expiring contract will also be of interest to any team looking to shed long-term salary. If the Knicks can find the right deal built around him, they have to strike—because their other plans are flawed.
Again, Chandler can play. He’s a great leader and has established himself as one of the more respected defenders in the league. But the Knicks have been statistically better without him on the floor.
New York’s record with Chandler, who missed a signification chunk of time early in the year with a leg fracture, is 13-14. With him, NYK’s record is 16-27.
Like Anthony, it’ll be tough parting ways with such an established, admirable player. But the draft stock and/or role players that New York could get in return will be worth it.
Drop Woody, bring in new voice
Mike Woodson has been a victim of circumstance this year, unfairly becoming the scapegoat for all of the Knicks’ troubles. And while 2013’s 54-win season proved that Woody knows what he’s doing, Jackson should bring in another coach.
Maybe it’s Steve Kerr, Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy or someone else—regardless, there needs to be a new voice in that locker room. Woodson’s message just doesn’t seem to be getting through.
Jackson has emphasized the need for an offensive system, though according to Mitch Lawrence of the Daily News, it doesn’t have to be PJax’s famous triangle.
The Knicks need a complete makeover, and parting ways with Anthony and Chandler would significantly alter the dynamic of the team itself, both on and off the court.
But to truly turn things around in New York, a coaching change needs to be made.
Woodson has lost the locker room. And if you don’t believe that, check out this snippet of a recent Knicks timeout posted by Pro Basketball Talk’s Kurt Helin (NSFW language):
If you don't think Mike Woodson is a dead coach walking, check out this from last night's game (NSFW) https://t.co/sp02AXLJMj— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) March 20, 2014
That’s not a coach who has his players engaged. That’s a coach whose message goes in one ear and out the other.
And when a team no longer responds to its coach, it’s time to shake things up.
Is it possible?
Will Jackson and the rest of NYK’s front office be able to turn this ship around? Definitely—as long as widespread changes are made.
It’s going take a Noah’s Ark-caliber storm to cleanse New York of everything wrong with its current state of basketball. And then there will be a drought, most notably next season—assuming the team will be without Anthony and Chandler.
But, though this revamp will be far from easy, there’s a chance that confetti could be raining down from the ceiling of Madison Square Garden in a few years.