So today the 2015 NBA free agency season begins. For the New York Knicks, this perhaps will be the most critical juncture of the Phil Jackson era. Originally the plan to rebuild the Knicks seemed to center around the draft and free agency. However with New York falling to the 4th pick during the draft lottery, the weight of the team’s future has shifted toward acquiring veterans. While it’s possible that Porzingis is the future of New York Basketball, from a strictly statistical perspective, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll be a future top 10 player. Hence it reasons that for the Knicks, free agency is the more likely route to a winning franchise.
Many of the potential free agents are going to be unavailable to New York. LeBron James isn’t walking through those Garden doors (in a Knicks uniform). Neither are Kawhi Leonard, Marc Gasol, Jimmy Butler, Tim Duncan, and Draymond Green, as all of these players are expected to stay with their current team. That leaves just few A-listers remaining for the rest of the NBA to divide.
And the Knicks really need an A-list free agent.
New York won only 17 games last year, their worst showing in franchise history. Right now the team has one star player that missed half of last season, a sophomore coach with questionable ability, a teenage lottery pick that may not be contributing much his first season, and a roster that arguably lacks another NBA caliber starter (ok maybe Jose Calderon — if they keep him).
Given the desperate need of the Knicks to make a splash in this free agency, there is one player they should be targeting: DeAndre Jordan.
I’m not really sure I need to make the case for Jordan on the Knicks. But if there are any questions, let me set all doubts aside. Jordan led the league in rebounds and field goal percentage for the last 2 years. He’s played 82 games in each of the last 3 seasons, and will only be 27 years old next year. The 6-11 center is one of the premier defenders in the league at a position where defense is key.
Perhaps Knick fans are worried about his offense. Sure his offensive repertoire is limited, and this might be a problem if the Knicks were centered around let’s say Danillo Gallinari or David Lee. But isn’t the upside of having Carmelo Anthony supposed to be the ripple effect that his shot creation gives the rest of the team? Last I checked, the Knicks offense was fine when Anthony was paired with Tyson Chandler, a player with nearly identical strengths and weaknesses. And I don’t buy the argument that Jordan wouldn’t fit the triangle offense. The Bulls excelled with Dennis Rodman, a player whose contributions were limited to assisted baskets around the hoop and scoring opportunities created off of offensive rebounds.
Now getting Jordan is another story. On one hand, it appears that the center has opened the door to leaving the Clippers. On the other, every team with the ability to land him will likely be giving him the same offer as New York. Dallas will offer him a job in his home state, with an established coach, a team that has success over the last 15 years, and an owner that is liked by the public. Or basically the exact opposite of the Knicks.
Although the Knicks do have Phil Jackson, Carmelo Anthony, and a lively cultural city that isn’t a suburb united under the guise of a metropolis. In all seriousness, this is what Knick fans have been led to believe. The bright lights of the Big Apple would appeal to the biggest stars of the league. Getting All-Star Carmelo Anthony, as opposed to merely an above-average scoring forward, was the key to open the door to those unreachable free agents. And Phil Jackson would be the vizier, the architect, the salesman, that would reel in the big fish. If New York can’t lure DeAndre to sign with them, then perhaps they’re paying Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson for attributes that don’t actually exist.
There may be many paths to a winning franchise for the Knicks. However I’m hard pressed to think of a better way than landing DeAndre Jordan to anchor the defense and compliment Carmelo Anthony.