The New York Knicks don't have a lottery pick at their disposal, nor enough financial wiggle room to land the difference-making talent their 37-45 record would lead you to believe they need.
No worries, center Tyson Chandler said. The problem lies not with the tangible makeup of the roster but the intangible way those pieces come together—or didn't come together this season, rather.
"A lot around here is made of personnel," Chandler said after his exit interview with new team president Phil Jackson, via Marc Berman of the New York Post. "I don’t think that’s it. I personally think you have to bring a winning culture out here. Until that’s established, you can rotate players as much as you want, it’s not going to make a difference"
Like the winning culture that produced 54 victories in the Big Apple during the 2012-13 campaign, perhaps? You know, the one that featured eight of the very same players who participated in this disastrous season?
Well, no, actually. While that group certainly showed better in the standings, its final result (a second-round exit at the hands of the Indiana Pacers) still fell short of its ultimate goal.
"We had a great season last year. Then again, one team wins a championship, the rest go home," Chandler said, per Berman. "My goal is to win another championship. I said that the moment when I came here fresh off a championship."
Perhaps blinded by the Zen Master's bling—Jackson won 11 titles as a coach, two more as a player—championship hopes are still breezing through the New York City streets.
And they should. Unless a generous peer offers to take several of the Knicks' bad contracts of their hands (they're on the hook for more than $55 million next season for the quartet of Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani and J.R. Smith alone, via Shamsports.com), there's no way to hit the reset button.
That money, of course, doesn't account for any that may be owed to incumbent superstar Carmelo Anthony. The seven-time All-Star can opt out of his current deal this summer, and he, like Chandler, sounds desperate pursue something of substance as soon as possible, per Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:
Carmelo: "I want to come back...I also want to win."— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) April 17, 2014
Carmelo: "I don't know if I can afford another season of losing."— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) April 17, 2014
So, how exactly does one go about changing the culture?
Well, luring in someone with Jackson's jewelry case is a start. The guy preaches winning, and there are 13 trophies to back up his words.
The next step might be overhauling the coaching staff, something it seems Chandler might be on board with. The former Defensive Player of the Year has publicly voiced his criticisms of Mike Woodson's defensive principles, per Newsday's Al Iannazzone:
Tyson Chandler said he doesn't agree with the Knicks defensive game plan and that they don't have the personnel to switch on pick-and-rolls.— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) January 20, 2014
If Woodson's out, though, then who's in to take his place?
Jackson's former pupil, Steve Kerr, "absolutely expects" to get a call about the (so far) nonexistent vacancy, a source told George Willis of the New York Post. Should that offer come Kerr's way, "he's definitely going to do it," the source said.
Then again, maybe Jackson doesn't have to look outside the organization for coaching help. Maybe he doesn't even need to look outside his own home.
Of course, Jackson's body might disagree.
Who do you think will coach the Knicks next season?
"I can't do it ... It's not part of the contract, it's part of my physical capabilities," Jackson said of a possible return to the sidelines, via TMZ.
Whoever inherits this roster will get a squad heavy on talent but short on production. This season's group didn't defend (106.5 defensive rating, 25th) or crash the boards (49.0 rebounding percentage, 22nd).
Those problems can't be swept under the rug. They could be pushed back in our memory banks, though, if Chandler gets his wish.
If the Knicks can find an identity worth rallying around, perhaps they can avoid a rerun of this nightmarish episode.
Statistics used courtesy of NBA.com.