The Knicks Blog’s Adam Zagoria recently reported that Phil Jackson, the New York Knicks’ new president of basketball operations, told point guard Raymond Felton in an exit interview he may be traded this summer.
After breathing a sigh of relief powerful enough to run a 19th century steamboat, Knicks fans found themselves paralyzed by a rather pressing concern:
For as bad as Felton is, who, exactly, is supposed to replace him?
It seems one possibility may be surfacing:
Yeah, about that sigh of relief.
First, the facts: Steve Blake is 34 years old and is coming off a season in which he registered a PER of 11 in a little over 27 minutes per game for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors.
A long-term solution, this is not.
But that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad one. Indeed, Jackson has made it abundantly clear he intends to recalibrate New York’s on-court product to feature the triangle offense, a system that only helped yield the Zen Master 11 championship rings since 1990-91.
Here’s Scott Cacciola of the New York Times weighing in on precisely this point:
Jackson appears to want someone who will operate as an extension of himself, someone familiar with the triangle, perhaps someone he has coached. Someone young and fairly compliant would not hurt, either. Jackson, after all, is as much coach emeritus as team president.
While there is no shortage of viable coaches who are available for work — Lionel Hollins and George Karl, to name two — Jackson’s pool appears a bit more shallow and more confined.
Which is all part and parcel with Jackson’s own remarks at his introductory press conference back in March. From Pro Basketball Talk’s Kurt Helin:
I believe in system basketball. (Knicks GM) Steve Mills came out of Princeton. I came out of a system that we ran here in New York in which team basketball was an important aspect of playing. We believe that is what we want to accomplish here.
And while Blake spent only one season under Jackson (2010-11), it stands to reason his knowledge of the triangle is worlds beyond that of, well, Felton anyway.
It’s eminently possible Jackson could merely be looking to forge a kind of point guard by committee, with Pablo Prigioni serving as New York’s temporary stopgap.
Basically, Jackson’s options for dealing Felton fall into three categories:
1. Package him along with other players in hopes of getting a legitimate floor general in return (say, the not so triangle friendly Tyson Chandler).
2. The same as (1) but with the Knicks reeling in non-point guards and opting instead to round out the back court through free agency (Blake et al).
3. Package him straight up for another veteran in a deal with a willing party (highly unlikely).
4. Clone Chris Paul.
Felton’s legal problems—he was arrested back in March for allegedly brandishing an unregistered firearm in the general direction of his estranged wife—will obviously play a huge role in how this all unfolds.
As will the looming free agency of Carmelo Anthony, without whom New York will most certainly be compelled to explore an all-out rebuild. The kind of project in which it might even behoove you to go a season without a very good starting point guard.
Knicks fans know a little something about that, after all.