With Phil Jackson in charge, the Knicks have a front office that can be trusted to rebuild the franchise, but the road to recovery is one paved with bloated contracts, a lack of first-round draft picks and uncertainties surrounding Carmelo Anthony's desire to remain with the organization.
A coaching change also seems inevitable.
Despite NY's recent rally, Mike Woodson's days are numbered, and whom Jackson warrants worthy of being Woodson's successor is yet to be seen. Steve Kerr has been speculated as a frontrunner, via Jeff Zilligitt of USA Today, as well as possibly Derek Fisher:
If indeed TNT analyst and former NBA guard Steve Kerr, who played for three of Jackson's championship Bulls teams, wants to coach, he is the front-runner, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
But one other name to consider, if Kerr doesn't end up as coach: Derek Fisher, who could end up with the Knicks either as a coach or front-office executive.
Jackson will need to be creative in not only his coaching search but in making way with the duds taking up space on his roster.
Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani stand to earn over $40 million next season, and Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith are owed $3,793,693 and $5,982,375, respectively.
Unless Jackson unloads some of those contracts, he won't be able to spend any significant amount of money on free agents until the 2015 offseason.
N.Y. will need to be creative in their approach to lure talented players for a minimal amount of money, but Jackson isn't worried about the challenges ahead of him.
Re: the summer of 2014, Phil says there are always ways to make moves and improve the team. #Knicks— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 3, 2014
Phil on the 2014 offseason: "We anticipate that we are going to try and improve the team in every position we can." #Knicks— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 3, 2014
Scouting will play a more pivotal role this offseason with the lack of draft picks and cap space. A diamond in the rough or two may need to be found in order to add some youth and potential to the roster.
Jackson suggested that he spent considerable time watching the NCAA tournament this past week with other Knick officials.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) April 3, 2014
Lack of Draft Picks
Draft picks don't always pan out and develop into worthwhile players, but the mere possession of a first rounder—in a draft filled with as much talent as the one to come—makes life a lot easier for management.
The ability to pick up a youngster with potential that happens to be under an affordable contract expedites the rebuilding process.
The Knicks will be handcuffed in that regard and will need to search long and hard for that under-the-radar prospect that falls into the second round or goes undrafted.
Not having a first rounder also limits the potential Jackson has to make a trade that leaves a major impact.
A lottery pick in this draft coupled with Iman Shumpert or an expiring contract like Bargnani's could be enough to acquire a disgruntled star in need of a new home.
Carmelo Anthony Staying Put?
Anthony's free-agency status has been a question all year and will be the crux of N.Y.'s offseason.
If he stays put, the franchise has the main piece necessary to build a contender and could focus on tweaking the roster around his abilities.
But if Melo decides to go elsewhere, Jackson will need to execute a new game plan, and he will have to decide whether to pursue any of the lavish free agents in 2015 and 2016 or to take the boring route of building from the draft up.
Phil said he and Melo have talked about this season but haven't talked about the future yet. #Knicks— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 3, 2014
Whichever direction Anthony goes in, Jackson will be prepared to adjust, but the easiest way to field a winner in N.Y. is with Melo staying put.
It may be challenging for Jackson to convince Anthony that the Knicks can win a championship within the next few years, but it's an issue the "Zen Master" is prepared for, and regardless of Melo's decision, New York's future is in good hands.