On paper, the New York Knicks had an above average summer last year, and team president Phil Jackson appeared to have finally righted the ship of the struggling franchise. The team was able to sign former All-Star center Joakim Noah and also acquired former league MVP Derrick Rose in a deal with the Chicago Bulls. The team, at least on the surface, also added the necessary depth by bringing in veteran guards Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings.
However, headed into the All-Star break, the Knicks (23-34) are four games behind the Detroit Pistons for the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed. While many observers feel the Pistons are one of the league’s biggest disappointments this season, the Knicks aren’t far behind them on the trail, if at all.
Jackson has repeatedly jabbed his franchise player Carmelo Anthony at every turn. There’s been drama on the sideline recently between owner James Dolan and Knicks fan favorite Charles Oakley. The team has also endured injuries to their top guys with Noah and second-year forward Kristaps Porzingis missing chunks of time this season.
All of the above items have resulted in the team dropping 21 out of their last 28 contests, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Knicks are likely going to be sellers at the trade deadline next week.
Rose recently told ESPN he’s enjoying his time with the Knicks.
“I like being here but [you] never know what could happen,” Rose said according to Ian Begley of ESPN. “My job is to come in and play as hard as I can.”
But according to Begley’s report, citing league sources, there are multiple teams viewing Rose as a potential trade target.
Flashes of Rose’s old dominance have surfaced since arriving to New York. The veteran guard is still an above average penetrator and a strong finisher at the rim. But Rose has struggled on the defensive side of the ball and hasn’t generated high assist totals as the team’s floor general.
Despite the shortcomings, Rose remains a coveted athlete around the league and this gives Jackson some extra flexibility should he ultimately decide to make a deal before next week’s trade dealne.
“Some in the organization believe that Anthony won’t want to give Jackson the satisfaction of running him out of town. Anthony on Wednesday didn’t sound like a player who was ready to leave. He talked about wanting to recruit free agents to New York when asked about the subject; he also acknowledged that he still holds out hope of one day playing with the Clippers’ Chris Paul and the Bulls’ Dwyane Wade. “A dream,” Anthony called it. And while he doesn’t expect to leave New York, Anthony knows better than to assume anything when it comes to the days leading up to the trade deadline.”
On the trade deadline, Anthony played good solider and has consistently given all of the politically correct answers throughout the season.
“I’ve seen a lot of things happen in this league over the years,” Anthony said. “Obviously we know what can happen over the next week or two. But we’ll see when that time comes.”
With the Knicks struggling to find relevance despite a summer of spending, the right thing to do might be to begin a full-fledged rebuild. Still, some of the league’s best executives have found talented gems when the chips were seemingly down, and they sometimes were able to without blowing up their roster.
One way or another, Jackson’s savviness and competence as an executive will be tested over the next week.
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