An Open Letter to James Dolan

One of our longtime posters, Frank, asked if I could share this open letter he wrote to James Dolan. So here ya go! – BC

Dear Mr. Dolan,

I have been a Knicks fan for as long as I can remember. I remember scanning the box scores in the paper as a kid, looking for Bill Cartwright’s and Bernard King’s line after every game. I lived and died with the Knicks of the 90s, cheering their lunchbox mentality and how much they seemed to embody the grittiness and toughness of New York City. I was even a season ticket holder during the late 2000s, until I had to give them up after my family moved out of the city.

People who know me would agree that I am perhaps the least likely person to write an email to the owner of a professional sports team on the distant hope that he might read the plea of one fan out of the many thousands. Even so, I feel like the Knicks are at a crossroads right now, and that perhaps you are the only one that can turn the fortunes of this foundering franchise.

Like many Knick fans, I cheered the hiring of Phil Jackson two years ago, feeling that bringing aboard a basketball legend and former Knick great could reinvigorate the franchise. However, since then it has become clear to me that Mr. Jackson did not return solely to bring the franchise back to its previous glory – rather, he came back with an agenda to solidify his own legend by proving that his system and its teachings were primarily responsible for his 11 championships, not the combination of spectacular roster talent, his skillful coaching, and yes, the Triangle system.

I’d like to present to you one fan’s view of Mr. Jackson’s tenure and what I think it means for the present and future of our beloved franchise.

First – what has already happened from a “Results” perspective:

His return has been an unmitigated disaster. Despite his public prediction that the team would compete for the playoffs in 2014, they recorded the worst season in the history of this proud franchise. Then, despite his vaunted recruiting powers, he was unable to even land a meeting with most of the sought-after free agents, settling for a backup plan at center (Robin Lopez, who has been excellent), and afterthoughts in Arron Afflalo (who has been quite bad), and Derrick Williams. The result of these signings was yet another 50 loss season and the midseason firing of his own hand-picked coach. And while this 32 win season was a 15 win improvement from last year, it was still 5 wins fewer than the “disaster” of the 2013-14 season that led to Mr. Jackson’s hiring in the first place.

Worse, however, is that the team regressed after a strong start this season, which belies the notion that the players just needed time to learn the Triangle. Despite his assertions that the team ran the offense with more conviction after Mr. Rambis became coach, the won-loss record and other statistics show that the team actually performed worse on both offense and defense under Mr. Rambis as opposed to under Mr. Fisher. While there may be some “small sample size” confounders partially underlying this difference, it’s very difficult to suggest with any objective evidence that anything was actually better under Mr. Rambis.

Second – regarding his performance as a talent evaluator AND negotiator (I group these skills together since they are irrevocably tied to each other), I present these with hindsight, since the job of a talented executive is not just to react to the present, but to anticipate.

The good:

Certainly the drafting of Kristaps Porzingis – the most promising Knicks draft pick since Patrick Ewing
Finding Langston Galloway from the undrafted pool (more on this later)
Signing Lance Thomas (more on this later)
Trading Tim Hardaway Jr. for a first round pick (Jerian Grant)
Signing Robin Lopez to an excellent 4 year contract.

The bad:

1) The trade of Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton for Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and Cleanthony Early. On its face this was not the worst trade in the world, since Larkin was a mid-1st round pick just one draft earlier, and the second round picks could be considered as lottery tickets for a team that needed young talent. However, trading for Jose Calderon and his contract that runs through 2016-17 has been extremely crippling for the franchise. There is not one GM in the league that would look at Calderon as anything but a liability on the court and on the payroll at this point. Larkin has talent, but has always best performed as a pick and roll player – a skill that is deprecated in the Triangle. He was such a misfit in the system that he was let go for nothing the next summer. The second round draft picks have not proven that they are NBA players despite 2 full years in the Knicks system.

And while Mr. Chandler has not played well this season (seemingly justifying his trade “a year too early rather than a year too late”), he could easily just have been let go without any cap ramifications this past offseason, or more likely, traded at the deadline last season – a deadline that saw a far inferior player (Timofey Mozgov) garner two first round picks in trade. Ultimately, this was a criminal misreading of Calderon’s remaining skillset and of Chandler’s potential market. One might defend Mr. Jackson by saying that Chandler did not have the proper skillset to play in the Triangle, so he was trading him while he still had some value, but this is contradicted by the fact that Mr. Jackson tried to sign Deandre Jordan – a player with a very similar skillset to Chandler – in free agency.

2) Finding and then not locking up Langston Galloway – Galloway is, in my mind, the exact type of player I would want on the Knicks. He is self-made, humble, and obviously works very hard. Kudos to Mr. Jackson and his staff on finding him and giving him an opportunity. However, if he had signed him to a multi-year contract (likely even at the minimum, or even just above the minimum as we did Lance Thomas and Lou Amundson), we would not have to worry about either overpaying him (via a Gilbert Arenas provision) or losing him to another team this summer.

3) Signing Lance Thomas to a 1 year contract – Thomas is, like Galloway, someone who could be an integral part of a championship team. His improvement under this regime has been undeniable, and his professionalism and other intangibles have been much lauded. However, it would be disingenuous of Mr. Jackson and his team to take much credit for his signing. First, he was actually released after the trade with Oklahoma City, exposing him to any team out there that wanted his services. Second, if Mr. Jackson had any inkling that he would make this kind of improvement, he would have signed him to a multi-year deal, just like he should have done with Mr. Galloway. It seems possible and likely that we will lose Mr. Thomas in free agency this offseason because of this mistake. As it is, Lance Thomas’s improvement has the look of good and unexpected fortune, not good management.

4) The signings of Derrick Williams and Arron Afflalo – These have not been “bad” signings in that they have played up to or close to their market value this season. However, signing them to a two year contract with a 2nd year player option removed any possibility of significant upside for the franchise. Even under the best of circumstances, the players would play very well for one year and then we would still have to compete against a market flush with cap space to retain their services at or above market value. The worst case scenario has come to pass with Mr. Afflalo – he has not played particularly well, and yet we are still at his mercy regarding whether he will stay or go.

5) The signing of Carmelo Anthony with a no trade clause – I am a huge Carmelo nthony fan and think he has been unjustifiably criticized both as a player and a person. I am NOT one of the fans who think he is overpaid. However, giving a player a no-trade clause absolutely hamstrings an organization if, as in this case, a reset button is being contemplated.

Each of these mistakes could be justified in isolation, but in total, they paint a picture of an executive who perhaps has good instincts but does not have foresight – the type of foresight that, for example, allowed the Warriors and Grizzlies to sign Stephen Curry and Mike Conley Jr., respectively, to what have been proven to be vastly undermarket contracts. There are many examples of this kind of foresight around the league, but none here in New York under Mr. Jackson’s leadership. In addition, he does not seem to have the requisite strong negotiation skills that would allow the team to incrementally improve (without needing to make dramatic and usually high-risk/expensive moves) by making shrewd, team-friendly deals in both trade and contract negotiations.

Third – what does this mean for the future?

One of the major selling points of Mr. Jackson’s hire was that he would bring stability to an organization that has had far too much turmoil. Yet, the only thing that has been “stable” since his arrival is his devotion to his beloved offensive system (more on this in a moment). The roster has turned over multiple times, with many changes certain to come this offseason also – a very common occurrence in today’s NBA. He has already fired his own handpicked coach not 4 months into his 2nd season.

Even in this (most recent) lost season, there was a wild inconsistency in what the goals should be. For instance – after the goal of making the playoffs was clearly unrealistic, why would Mr. Rambis (and by extension, Mr. Jackson), not give young players more minutes until he was actually taken aside by veterans and asked to do so (which must be an unprecedented event NBA history)? If the goal was to “sustain a winning culture” and not player development, why did Mr. Rambis insist that Kristaps Porzingis do things on the court that the current administration has already said he is not yet physically ready to do (post-up, play inside, etc.) but that Mr. Rambis perceived would be in his best interest for future seasons?

For the future:

The one thing that Mr. Jackson clearly did right was drafting Kristaps Porzingis. As such, there is literally no more important job for the franchise over the next few years than the careful development of KP while he still has the cover of playing with a star like Carmelo Anthony in his prime — much like Kawhi Leonard was nurtured slowly into superstardom while playing with the Spurs’ veteran stars.

And this is why we are at a crossroads right now. This next coaching staff will determine how and in what ways KP expands and improves his game. By extension, this next coaching staff may very well determine whether KP decides to stay a New York Knick when his rookie contract expires. Can this be left to Phil Jackson, who may be gone within a year or two, whether by his choice or yours? Can this be left to Kurt Rambis, who has no record at all for player development as a head coach and has the 5th worst winning percentage of any coach with 200+ games coached in NBA history?

The New York Knicks are one of the flagship franchises in all of professional sports. They have a bona fide superstar in Carmelo Anthony, one of the brightest young prospects in the game in Kristaps Porzingis, and significant cap money to spend. This head coaching job should be one of the most sought after positions in the NBA. And yet, the most likely head coaching candidate’s major (and only) qualifications are that he is “simpatico” with Phil Jackson and that his wife is
good friends with Lakers executive Jeannie Buss. While having a close relationship between front office and head coach seems a noble goal, it’s fair to point out that Mr. Jackson’s own strained relationship with Jerry Krause seemed to work out well to the tune of 6 championships.

It’s also fair to ask whether Kurt Rambis would garner any consideration for head coach for any other franchise in the league. As Steve Jobs, perhaps the most famous and successful CEO of recent American history has said:

A players hire A players; B players hire C players; and C players hire D players. It doesn’t take long to get to Z players. This trickle-down effect causes bozo explosions in companies.

This is not an indictment of Kurt Rambis, who I’m sure is a fine man and is probably a somewhat competent basketball coach. This is an indictment of what Mr. Jackson has admitted will be the process of choosing the next coach. What does it mean when a supposed “A player” wants to hire someone who is at best a “C player”? And what kind of assistant coaching talent will a “C player” be able to recruit, and what are the downstream implications of that in terms of player development?

Fans are not asking that Mr. Jackson abandon his principles. In fact, I would only ask that he heed his own words:

Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart.

Approach the game with no preset agendas and you’ll probably come away surprised at your overall efforts.

While it is possible that he is just trolling the media (and fans), his defiant words over the last 2 years indicate a man who is so sure that his way is right that he refuses to listen to anyone outside his echo chamber. He has said that he will not even consider coaches that are not within his ever-dwindling tree of former players and coaches. The problem is – even if he is right, even if the Triangle is a higher level of basketball – the players in the league don’t believe it. Most of his own players from his championship teams don’t believe it. Michael Jordan isn’t running the Triangle in Charlotte. Shaquille O’Neal has said the Triangle is great only if you have the best players. Steve Kerr has incorporated aspects of the Triangle in Golden State (as have many teams), but is running his own system otherwise with great success.

Championships in all team sports come down to talent AND coaching AND system. The most talented players in the league are not seriously looking at the Knicks as a desired destination. This is not because of the media, as was suggested by Mr. Jackson in last week’s press conference – it’s because by Rambis’s own admission, the Triangle is difficult to learn (“it takes a year”), which is extremely undesirable in a league that now has so much roster turnover each season (not to mention practice time devoted to learning an unfamiliar system can’t be spent on defense, which has been the real problem over the last few years). It’s because the Triangle has the perception of being an overly technical and outdated system that has failed everywhere it didn’t have the best talent in the league. Despite Mr. Jackson’s 11 rings, players don’t perceive the Knicks as their best chance to win as a team and succeed as individuals, and so they go elsewhere. Without talent, no system has a chance of succeeding. Perception becomes reality.

In closing (and my humble solution):

As a lifelong Knicks fan, and with all due respect, my hope is that you will consider releasing Mr. Jackson from his position, and give serious consideration to bringing back Jeff Van Gundy.

Like Phil Jackson, he is connected to a cherished period in New York Knicks history. He has rought a lot of joy to Knicks fans, to New York City, and I would guess to you as well.

Like Phil Jackson, he inspired unquestioned devotion from his players. He is a man that has literally gone to the deck in
defense of his players.

He will clearly work day and night, through the season and offseason, to bring glory back to this franchise.

He already has a record of success with this franchise in this market with this level of media scrutiny.

He will not embarrass the organization and the fan base on social media or justify late night tweets by saying, in an actual interview, that “goink” is an urban sexual term, not just a typo.

He has no devotion to any sacred theory of basketball and no agenda to prove other than that aggressive lock-down defense, good habits, and hard work will bring good results. These are values that New Yorkers feel deep in their collective souls. This would be a hiring that would bring excitement, and most importantly, success back to New York Knicks basketball.

I would understand if you are wary of bringing Mr. Van Gundy back because of the circumstances under which he left – however, I would consider his heartfelt words about his regrets over that decision and give him and your long-suffering, hopelessly loyal Knicks fans a chance at a new beginning.

Sincerely yours,

Frank L.
Lifelong Knicks fan

UPDATE: This letter was written (and sent to James Dolan) before the recent news about the interview with David Blatt. I would be fully in support of his hire.

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85 thoughts to “An Open Letter to James Dolan”

  1. Good stuff, Frank. Too bad JVG is likely never returning here so long as Dolan is the owner.

    Remember when the Knicks would actually have a coaching advantage in most games? Those were the days.

  2. I couldn’t have said it better myself, at least until the JVG part. Not that I dislike him but I think we need to move forward and besides everything I read (mainly here) says Dolan hates him. Maybe the Phil defenders were not her when Larry Brown was coach, but I don’t recall too many people being afraid to criticize him. Mind you Brown was credited for thoroughly outcoaching Jackson in the Finals in whatever year that was and has had success in more places and with less stacked teams than Jackson.

  3. wow – much appreciated Brian! This letter was actually sent to Dolan, doubt he ever read it, or even if he did, probably tl;dr’d it. And thanks to everyone here, since most of what went into this was from all the discussions here.

  4. EXCELLENT!

    I had a piece about Phil near the end of the season, but couldn’t stomach finishing it. You’ve created a coherent logical treatise on the failures of Jackson. I couldn’t have said it better myself (without losing my lunch.)

  5. Dolan hates him

    He hates him so much that he’s even been leery of JVG’s coaching tree!

  6. What happened to the paragraph advocating the hire of DRed as GM?

    Hmm. editor must have edited it out. (this is my first thing ever published and I’ve already learned to blame the editor)

  7. I dont understand why the criticism of Phil Jackson is so ‘triangle-centric’. Aside that the guy is constantly talking about it, i dont think that he has restrained his moves because of this. The only thing that has been a constant in his moves is the ‘culture’, which lead to the Tyson Chandler trade, and that is why we have a much healthier locker room.

    I think all this board is overreacting because of a hypothetical hiring of Kurt Rambis that i seriously doubt that it will happen.

  8. Hey, I’d be thrilled if he hired a non-Triangle coach. If that actually happens, awesome. It’d go against everything Jackson has said and done since the season ended, but I’d be pumped about it.

  9. I retweeted the tweet with the link to the letter. I agree with it completely, except the part about hiring Blatt. I don’t think he’s the man.

  10. Frank, I definitely get where this letter is coming from, and agree with 90% of the Phil assessments. That said, if given a choice between firing him and not firing him, I would not fire him. Firing him means that Dolan returns as the puppet master. That is a worst-case scenario. Dolan ran this franchise into the ground over 15 years.

    For all of Phil’s flaws, he at least knows something about basketball talent and managing a team. Dolan does not. Phil was given a roster on the decline with no young talent. He’s made mistakes but he also had little to work with. There are 10 or 20 GMs I’d replace him with; Dolan is not one of them.

    It would be naive to believe that if Dolan stepped in to fire Phil, he wouldn’t add a “savior” complex on top of his already huge ego and misplaced confidence. He’d go right back to doing all the things that have kept us in the mud since he took over. Dolan is a cancer; Phil might just be a flu.

  11. He wrote back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Mr Frank

    You are a sad person. Why would anybody write such a hateful letter. I am.just guessing but ill bet your life is a mess and you are a hateful mess. What have you done that anyone would consider positive or nice. I am betting nothing. In fact ill bet you are negative force in everyone who comes in contact with you. You most likely have made your family miserable. Alcoholic maybe. I just celebrated my 21 year anniversary of sobriety. You should try it. Maybe it will help you become a person that folks would like to have around. In the mean while start rooting.for the Nets because the Knicks dont want you.

    Respectfully

    James Dolan

    P.S. Phil says to kiss his 11 rings you fucking loser

  12. @12 that can’t be real because there are no spelling errors and he uses big words like “sobriety” and “miserable”

  13. What a bunch of whiners here! I’m very happy to have Phil here. Yes, I trust in him. He has forgotten more basketball than anyone here will ever know. He’s brought us KP, Grant and Gallo. He’s kept all of our future number 1’s. He stole Robin Lopez. One or two more seasons like this and we’ll be contenders again. And for a long time.

    Thanks, Phil!

  14. Seriously though, while I agree with the vast majority of what you wrote Frank and have been incessantly beating the drums over Phil’s shortcomings I don’t think it’s time to move on yet (and when they do I hope it’s for someone with experience as an executive, not for someone with no experience in basketball ops like JVG, much as I love him). I think two offseasons is too little to thoroughly evaluate Phil as a GM. While his moves have been weak overall so far I think there’s enough hits among the misses that it would be a bit hasty to dismiss him at this point. I do look at this offseason as one of reckoning for him however. If he decides to push for contention again and comes up woefully short once more I think next summer will be the time to go a different direction.

  15. I think Phil’s done enough that I’d be fine with him if he showed any indication of learning from his mistakes. Like stopping to try to compete every year. Or moreover, like if he hired pretty much anyone other than Rambis, that would be huge. That would show he’s actually learning. It would show that he’s not just a stubborn egomaniac.

    He’s probably hiring Rambis, though, soooo…

  16. Yeah. That’s who I really want running my team. A guy who stops competing all of the time. Hinkie available?

  17. 49-115 while trying to compete each year. That’s pretty embarrassing.

    He put up tanking results while not (intentionally) tanking. The last time we saw results like that was when another Hall of Famer who knew a lot about basketball was in charge (hint his name rhymes with Schmisiah Phomas)

  18. I’ve been writing a piece on Phil Jackson myself to post to a blog. I’m already 1,300 words in and I realized it’s such an emotional topic I end up rambling and getting upset with Phil Jackson’s methodology and reasoning. This piece is perfect. You said everything a Knicks’ fan needed to say without letting the emotions take you off pace, and that is a commendable task in of itself. Great job.

    But you know, I truly wonder if the “you can’t rebuild in New York” argument does hold some water. People hold it against Phil Jackson that our win loss record is worse than when he initially took over, but you can argue the team is in a better spot now than they were 2 springs ago. In 2014, our best young basketball players were Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway’s son Tim Hardaway. Today, we have Kristaps Porzingis under contract for the next 3 years and probably the 5 years after his rookie deal. The Knicks, despite their shitty record, have a lot of players we want to return if we’re going to take another step towards decency next year. In 2014 we still had Andrea Bargnani.

    Phil Jackson has not been a good GM, but he’s more benign than malignant. Despite Phil’s gaffes that Frank expounded on, we still have Carmelo Anthony (who we need to trade), Kristaps Porzingis, Robin Lopez, and $36 million in cap space. Phil could become a malignant GM this summer with Rambis and Evan Turner contracts, but he could also hire Blatt, trade Melo and sign some good players to fair contracts. We should let the rebuild take its course. Phil set himself up well. He would have done better with longer LT and Galloway contracts, but he hasn’t been terrible.

  19. It would appear I am the only Phil Jackson fan left. I’ll close the door and shut off the lights.

    Seriously, this is getting kind of ridiculous.

    About the only thing I agree with is that we didn’t get enough back in the Chandler deal, but even that has essentially become meaningless because it turned out Phil was one year early in his assessment of Chandler’s decline. And for the record, Jackson DID talk about Chandler’s injuries and possible imminent decline as one of the motivating factors for the trade. He just didn’t get enough back in trying to rid the team of Felton (Mozgov did not get traded with baggage) .

    Here’s what happened.

    Jackson was hoping to regain cap flexibility and get rid of the problem personalities while simultaneously remaining competitive. Then over the next few years he was going to try to slowly turn the team over and build what he wanted. When he realized the problems were deeper than he thought (Dalembert was just as bad problem as the players he was trying to get rid of and Calderon was hurt), he realized he was better off just blowing it all up because there was very little on the team worth keeping anyway. They could have won more games in his first year if he wanted, but for what purpose? The biggest problem the first year was that we won too many games and blew the first pick. There was nothing wrong with the original idea. At least he was smart enough to realize there was very little to salvage and did 100% the correct thing. Not many people would have had the stones to do that in NY. The Isola’s of the world comparing the win total the year before Jackson to now are missing the whole point. They are so ridiculous they should be placed on ignore. It’s people like that that have made it so tough to rebuild the right way like we are now!

    This team is very good shape going forward given the upside of the young players and cap space that will be available to fill out the team.

  20. Part 2.

    I like guys like Galloway and Williams, but neither was anywhere near a certainty to become a rotation player on a serious contending team. IMO neither has achieved that status as of yet . I like both and would like to keep them, but if we do not keep them, they are not gong to be the difference between our potential success or failure.

    I’m not a huge Rambis fan, but he hasn’t even been hired yet and hasn’t even coached a decent team in NY yet either. I’m hoping we hire Blatt, but if not, can we at least wait until Rambis actually has the job, is given a good team, and screws it all up before we trash Jackson for making the move. It hasn’t even happened and he hasn’t even failed yet but we are already trashing Jackson. That’s comical.

  21. It’s funny how injuries and possible decline impact the reasons for trading Chandler but did not go into his thinking with Calderon who was older and had numerous season with lingering injuries.

    Also are you sure not many GM’s would have had the stones to dump Jr Smith with Iman Shumpert(rFA) and then wait for their star player to shut it down and get surgery?

  22. People forget that Dalembert had virtually identical numbers to Chandler the year before the trade, the only large difference was Chandler missing 25 more games than Dalembert. And seriously nobody would rather have Felton than Calderon after that season.

  23. It would appear I am the only Phil Jackson fan left. I’ll close the door and shut off the lights.

    No you are not…..

  24. Definitely not his only fan here. It’s just incredible that some people here think that they know more than him.

  25. @30

    And it’s similarly incredible to the rest of us that you defend his decisions despite overwhelming evidence that he has no idea what he’s doing.

  26. Unfortunately, this letter has WAY too many words for Dolan to successfully read.

    Other than that, well done Frank!

  27. This is a new era guys. All of our draft picks. Terrific young players. Money to spend. The great Phil Jackson. Stay positive.

  28. They could have won more games in his first year if he wanted, but for what purpose? The biggest problem the first year was that we won too many games and blew the first pick. There was nothing wrong with the original idea. At least he was smart enough to realize there was very little to salvage and did 100% the correct thing. Not many people would have had the stones to do that in NY.

    Come on, they were 5-35 when he decided to blow it up. 5 and 35. It took no courage to break that team up. Crediting him with that is… well, actually it is pretty par for the course when it comes to defending Jackson.

  29. Hey, Phil also hasn’t been accused of sexual harressment. Gotta give him credit for that too.

  30. Hey, Phil also hasn’t been accused of sexual harressment. Gotta give him credit for that too.

    True. That took a lot of courage.

  31. Man, it seemed like Kyle Korver was in a huge shooting slump for much of the season, but he still ended up shooting 40% from three.

  32. Once again the ol’ “the defender is allowed to go straight up” defense. While yes, it is technically true, it does not mean that you can hit a guy while going straight up, and yet that’s how it seems like it has been translated into games.

  33. Thomas going for quick twos is moronic. They’re down 11 with a little over a minute left. It has to be three after three after three after three.

  34. And now he commits an offensive foul while he’s driving to score a quick two when he should have been going for a three!

  35. I wish some of you would just find another team to cry about, er, I mean root for.

    I wish you would stop worshiping a pair of colors and a typeset and apply some critical thinking to the problem at hand, but you keean’t– always git– what you wah-oo-ont

  36. I feel like things have been so bad for so long that people have lost all perspective.

    In the last 15 years the Knicks did things like max Allan Houston. Hire Isiah Thomas. Trade high draft picks for just about everyone including but not limited to Eddy Curry, Steve Francis, the kneeless Antonio McDyess, and Andrea Freaking Bargnani. Max the kneeless STAT. Trade half the team for Melo when it was clear he had few options. We had the highest payroll many years, and the least likeable team many years.

    Under Jackson, we have no albatross contracts. We have players who are better than average in their positions, including our entire frontcourt. We picked up young cheap players and turned them into useful pieces. We gave short-term deals to filler players in an attempt to be a reasonably decent team – which is rational when you ALREADY TRADED YOUR DRAFT PICK FOR ANDREA FREAKING BARGNANI. We did in fact draft very well. We have all our picks going forward. We have lots of cap space.

    OK, sure: the NTC to Melo was stupid. The options in the contracts for AA and DWill weren’t great. He didn’t get enough back in the Chandler trade (though again, he was right about Chandler, and do people forget what a fat cancer the gun-toting penguin was?). Fish didn’t pan out as a coach.

    Either way, the worst you can say about Jackson’s moves is that they were a mixed bag. Some good, some bad. Nothing amazing (except possibly the drafting of Porzingis), and nothing terrible (unless he does hire Rambis, in which case, I take every word of this back).

    People talk as if there were amazing moves we could have made, but there weren’t. This was a very limited team, old and without assets. Now it is a team with possibilities, fairly young, with draft picks, cap space, and some promise. The real issue is that Melo is too old to be a key cog in Zinger’s prime. That’s a problem. But Jackson has rated a C at worst, a B at best. Not an F.

  37. It is kind of ironic to be pleading to Dolan to intervene… When Jackson was hired, fans breathed a sigh of relief that he was turning autonomy over to an actual basketball mind. Alas, 24 months later and Frank wants Dolan to be Dolan again: meddling and impatient.

    Jackson hasn’t been great, but the thing he has going is that he’s NOT Dolan. He’s a buffer between Dolan and the team. Take Jackson out, and we are back to 2000-2014 Knicks, with Dolan’s finger perpetually on the button.

    Maybe let sleeping dogs lie, Frank, and just try to enjoy a 1st round playoff series sometime in the next 3 years.

  38. wait melo isn’t an albatross contract? He’s certainly going to be, if he’s not already.

    the only moves that could be classified as good–like actually good, not “good in comparison to the darkest period of the franchise”–are KP and the RoLo signing

    Just because you are comparatively good to the worst decade in the franchise’s history does *not* mean you are a good GM. It just means you aren’t historically bad. Phil has given us no reason to give him a charitable interpretation and he won’t until he hires David Blatt. If he hires Rambis it’s abundantly clear that he’s a moron and if people are still willing to defend him then I’ll just have to assume they have Stockholm Syndrome from watching the Knicks too long.

    He’s at best a C. He’s a below-average GM.

  39. Really though choosing between Jackson and Dolan is like choosing between Scylla and Charybdis

    Scylla is bad but I guess she’s not gonna destroy your boat and trade your first mate for Andrea Bargnani

  40. Well, after this offseason we’ll have a bigger sample size to go off of when it comes to Phil Jackson. So far the rumors we’re hearing are not very encouraging but maybe the old coot will surprise us with something.

  41. I’m not sure what anyone expects. Jackson is digging out from ~15 years of mismanagement and compounding errors. Look at the guys who have been taken with the Knicks’ traded picks this century. I mean, the team has hemorrhaged talent like no other franchise. Going back to 2001-02, who else even comes close? There has been a limit to what could be reasonably accomplished, especially in two years.

    The guy also plays a ton of games in the press, more than anyone in the NBA, to the point where the things he says on record are close to meaningless. Nothing he’s done has compromised the future of the team. If all Jackson does is set the table for the next guy, he would be the most successful Knicks exec since Grunfeld.

  42. @the don nelson era

    PJ walked into a better situation than any since Layden came in and screwed things up. Isiah and Walsh both inherited much worse contracts and worse draft debt.

    Was it a great situation? No. But in comparison to the average bad teams, it was probably an average situation. More cap flexibility + a top 15 player (in the eyes of most) and worse future draft assets. Phil just didn’t act with any urgency to correct the balance of the Knicks assets. Cap space and stars help you win now. He didn’t convert those win now assets into investments in the future, so we’re kinda in the same place we were when he took over with the exception of him stumbling into the top of the lotto and drafting KP.

  43. Hi all – appreciate all the feedback!

    First thing is that I wrote this before any of the Blatt stuff came out — when it looked for all the world Phil was really just thinking about Rambis and maybe Brian Shaw. I agree that Phil hasn’t done anything overtly dumb — it’s also that he really hasn’t done anything that great either, other than pick Kristaps. But as much as I love Kristaps (and I do), he literally could’ve picked just about anyone in the next 7 picks and it would have been considered a very good pick also (other than Kaminsky maybe).

    And comparing him to Isiah or Layden — that’s just too low a bar. Not trading away draft picks for non-difference makers – that’s literally just common sense. DRed for GM, or 90% of the posters on this board could do (or not do) the same thing. You don’t need to be a basketball legend making $12MM/year to do that.

    But in terms of other GM-ing type things? Making GOOD trades (not just ones that can be rationalized). Making GOOD contract decisions (not just ones that are relatively benign and not cap killers). Hiring GOOD coaches (not ones you fire 3 months into the second season, or ones that have a serious history of failure, or ones that have notably been unable to develop young talent). And adapting to the changing conditions – I bring up Apple again, because Apple has (for the time being) been able to keep reinventing itself, and believes strongly in cannibalizing yourself before you get eaten alive by others. Not sure how many people here follow the tech industry, but Phil feels very much like Microsoft or Intel – the king admiring himself in the mirror while his kingdom gets stolen away around him.

    Look – much of what I wrote can go right out the window if he hires Blatt. In one fell swoop that would cancel out most of my issues with Phil. Actually, that would be my ideal solution because like you guys, I don’t really WANT Dolan to get involved – I just didn’t see any other way.

  44. I think if we get Conley as an FA, we’re looking pretty good for a playoff spot. If not, we have our first round pick next summer. The worst thing is not making the playoffs and having no pick. If all Phil has done is end that perpetual sorrow, then I’m reasonably pleased.

    As to the triangle, I think it’s very similar to the Warriors and the SSOL Suns. All it really means is pass the ball, use the center as a facilitator (Bogut does it all the time), stay away from Iso all the time (Houston) or P&R all the time (LAC, Chandler/ Felton). Everybody touch the ball, no stars (BOS). Not a bad idea to make your offense more diverse. The coach speak about learning the triangle is just cover for a team that didn’t have enough talent to win on a nightly basis.

    It’s gonna suck watching one more draft with no pick. Phil didn’t cause that. However, we are in a better position going forward than we were a couple of years ago. No one expected a championship the last couple of years. Decisions going forward will define the Phil Jackson era.

  45. Yeah how dare Afflalo and DWill insist on being free agents in what will likely be the most lucrative offseason in NBA history. How dare Phil Jackson not swindle his way to an all-star lineup! Why don’t the other NBA teams just give us overwhelmingly beneficial trades to their detriment? How dare all things not go perfectly for I a Knicks fan!

  46. I get the impatience with Phil, but actually, nothing he’s done really bugs me all that much. The great Donnie Walsh fucked up our franchise way more during his tenure than Phil has during his. His adherence to the Triangle was a given at the time of his hiring, so no surprise there. He said at his hiring that building a contending team would be a long process. He was well known for being a flaky, self-absorbed blowhard at the time of his hiring.

    He’s made several rookie mistakes…most notably in coach hiring….but this is a player’s league. He whiffed on some FAs, but hasn’t signed anyone to a cap-killing contract or traded away the future. The team will probably not win much next year either, but now we have draft picks and cap space. And it’s crazy cynical to say he “lucked” into Porzingis when there were at least 5 other guys he could have justified picking (and some here were upset that we picked him over others. )

    Frank at the time of the Chandler trade:
    “I have to say – I am just flabbergasted by this trade, and not just in terms of us getting what looks like a pretty reasonable deal. We moved one terrible player with a bad contract (Felton), one declining player who didn’t fit the system anyway (Chandler), picked up a bunch of assets (the 2 picks, a 2013 mid-first round pick in Larkin, a serviceable player on a great contract in Dalembert, and a good player on a so-so contract (but who has now been traded 3 times in 2 years so there’s obviously a market for him) in Calderon). …I think it’s a home run. ”

    Brian Cronin at the time of the Chandler trade:
    “Yeah, I think that this is a fair return for Chandler. We were thinking getting a first rounder for him was fair and this deal (a useful player, two second round picks – including the always valuable early second rounder- and pawning off Felton) is basically equal to a first rounder, I believe. I am fine with this.”

  47. My point of the including the quotes is that you shouldn’t include the Chandler trade in your open letter (or agreement with it) if you thought it was a “home run” at the time.

  48. My point of the including the quotes is that you shouldn’t include the Chandler trade in your open letter (or agreement with it) if you thought it was a “home run” at the time.

    That’s why I wrote this in the letter too:

    regarding his performance as a talent evaluator AND negotiator (I group these skills together since they are irrevocably tied to each other), I present these with hindsight, since the job of a talented executive is not just to react to the present, but to anticipate.

    We’re all just armchair Qbs here. It’s his job to get it right. Just because you can rationalize a trade (or even have dumbos like me agree with your trade) doesn’t mean you’re a good GM.

    It’s a fair point that maybe Afflalo and DWill don’t come here unless they get that 2nd year player option. IMHO that means just don’t sign them. You’re not contending anyway this year (I mean 2015-16 season). As many here commented, all it does is allow the player to either play his way into a bigger contract or hold your cap hostage if they stink.

    And re: the Chandler trade again — let’s remind ourselves of the Rondo trade that Dallas/Boston made:

    The Celtics will send Rondo and forward Dwight Powell to Dallas for Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright, [one protected 2015 1st round pick draft picks and a 2016 second round pick and a] $12.9 million trade exception.

    Brandan Wright was then traded to Phoenix for another protected 1st round pick.

    So – the Celtics were able to deal with the same dallas front office, sending a much worse player coming off a major injury to them for Jae Crowder (borderline all-star this year), 2 protected 1st round picks, and a 2nd round pick.

    OK. And we’re still here saying that Phil is a good GM.

    I fully admit I was in favor of the Tyson trade at the time. But it’s his job to make a GOOD trade, not please idiots like me.

  49. Things don’t always go the way you want, not all things are predictable. But Phil Jackson is somehow supposed to have his crystal ball that predicts all outcomes? How does that make sense?

    Just because someone else made a shit trade doesn’t mean everyone makes a shit trade. To compare it to one lopsided trade isn’t a better way to judge Phil than it is to compare Phil to the Bargs trade. They’re both on the extreme ends of the spectrum.

  50. Come on, they were 5-35 when he decided to blow it up. 5 and 35. It took no courage to break that team up. Crediting him with that is… well, actually it is pretty par for the course when it comes to defending Jackson.

    It’s two years later and Isola is still whining that he took a team that won “x” games the year before and went backwards with it. People are forgetting that Calderon was hurt early and several of the other better players were in and out of the lineup with injuries until eventually Melo went down permanently. Our starting lineup often featured 2-3 of the following players even early in the season:

    Tim Hardaway Jr., Jason Smith, Pablo Prigioni, Quincy Acy, Cole Aldrich, Cleanothy Early, and Shane Larkin.

    He did what he could to start the rebuilding process without blowing it all up because he knew it would be tough to start from scratch in NY. The fact that Isola and other nitwits are still attacking the rebuild now demonstrates how hard it is to do things the right way in NY.

    I’m not saying every move has been perfect, but this is the first time in like FOREVER we are actually going about the rebuilding process without taking on terrible long term contracts for bad players, throwing away draft picks that would have helped in the long term for meaningless short term gain etc…

    People need to be patient.

    If KP and Grant move forward (which I see as likely) and we land 1 significant upgrade at guard and a couple up upgrades for the bench in free agency, this could easily be a 45+ win team next year with several key players still on the upswing. Then there are still wildcards like Wroten and Hernangomez that could give us an upside surprise given how young they are.

  51. Frank,

    I didn’t mean to come off as overly critical of what you wrote (if that’s how people perceived it). I just knew this was going to be a multi year process. I haven’t lost patience. I don’t see any of the moves that Jackson has made so far as all that bad. He may not have optimized every asset, but no one does. Look at this way, I wouldn’t trade where we are right now for where Daryl Morey and Houston are right now. I mean that seriously. They are better than us now, but we have a clear path up and they don’t.

  52. So – the Celtics were able to deal with the same dallas front office, sending a much worse player coming off a major injury to them for Jae Crowder (borderline all-star this year), 2 protected 1st round picks, and a 2nd round pick.

    The usual perception is that Rajon Rondo was (is) the better player (4 all stars, he has been a special PG all his life), and was much younger (28).

  53. Not to mention that the Celtics had been exploring Rondo trades for much longer. If you sell in a hurry, you are gonna sell low; Boston hung to Rondo until the right offer came along. Keeping Chandler and Felton was not an option for Jackson.

  54. We’re all just armchair Qbs here. It’s his job to get it right. Just because you can rationalize a trade (or even have dumbos like me agree with your trade) doesn’t mean you’re a good GM.

    Sorry Frank, I’m not buying this. When you and a bunch of other smart guys here feel that the trade was not just “rational” but a “home run,” you can’t turn around and criticize the guy that made that trade in hindsight without sounding petty.

    It’s a fair point that maybe Afflalo and DWill don’t come here unless they get that 2nd year player option. IMHO that means just don’t sign them. You’re not contending anyway this year (I mean 2015-16 season). As many here commented, all it does is allow the player to either play his way into a bigger contract or hold your cap hostage if they stink.

    Both guys played somewhere around their salary’s value, which is the best outcome possible. They are not holding the cap hostage. I would prefer that Afflalo opts out and DWill doesn’t, but there is no bad scenario here. Durant is not coming here, and none of the other FAs are worth getting worked up about.

    We conveniently seem to forget that at one point this season we were 21-21 and beating very good teams. Then Melo stepped on a ref’s foot and things went south in a hurry. At that moment, most of us were feeling pretty good about the direction of the team under Phil. Then there was an unlucky break and everything changed.

    Phil has had his share of good luck and bad luck. He’s made about as many smart and dumb moves as one should rightly have expected when he was hired. What’s important to me is that he hasn’t made any bad long-term moves that would give us no hope for things getting better 2-3 years out. The current core of this team is Melo, Porzingis, RoLo and Grant (and maybe Hernangomez and Wroten.) Everyone else is filler. I don’t really care much about who coaches the team right now.

  55. Keeping Chandler and Felton was not an option for Jackson.

    Which is a knock on him that he made it clear that he was desperate to move them. As you said, selling in a hurry is selling low. Walsh did the same thing with the Jared Jeffries trade. When everyone knows you feel that you “have” to make a move, you’re going to be held over the fire for it.

    Jackson was so desperate to get rid of Felton that he used his best trade asset to dump him. After all, keeping Felton would have been unforgivable, as the Knicks wouldn’t have been able to finish 49-115 these past two years if they had Felton weighing them down.

  56. I don’t really care much about who coaches the team right now.

    I applaud your pre-excuse making for when he hires Rambis.

  57. iserp, most here were lauding Jackson’s return on Chandler at the time; it’s disingenuous to criticize it in hindsight unless you were at least lukewarm on the deal at the time. Chandler was aging and injury-prone, coming off a world-class ass-whuppin’ by HOFer Roy Hibbert, and was viewed by many to have quit on his coach and team. Felton was viewed as an albatross with zero trade value. Waiting until the return was maximized could have been disastrous…if Chandler blew out his knee, we would have gotten nothing for him…imagine what folks here would have been saying if that happened after he turned down that trade??

  58. Okay so who would rather have player A and who would rather have player B or would you be indifferent?

    Player| A | B |
    AGE | 31 | 32 |
    TS% |.615 | .605 |
    ORB | 10.9 | 14.4 |
    DRB | 27.0 | 24.2 |
    TRB | 18.7 | 19.4 |
    AST | 5.5 | 3.4 |
    STL | 1.2 | 1.3 |
    BLK | 3.4 | 4.8 |
    TOV | 15.4 | 17.1 |
    USG | 12.9 | 14.8 |

  59. I gave the Chandler trade a C at the time. I thought he should have been trying to rebuild with the Chandler trade rather than retool. But I did think Calderon would be better than he was, which is why I didn’t have it lower than a C.

    And really, that’s one of the biggest knocks on the whole “he knows so much about basketball” argument. If he knew so much, then he should have known that that team was not going to be competitive, and thus should have been in full rebuild mode right from the get go and not after the team lost 35 of their first 40 games.

  60. “Which is a knock on him that he made it clear that he was desperate to move them. As you said, selling in a hurry is selling low. ”

    Brian, it is laughable for you to be saying this now. You said yourself at the time that he got “fair return” for Chandler. Now you are saying that he was desperate and sold low.

    As to Rambis, I don’t particularly care for him as a coach, but to me it makes little difference in the long run whether he is hired or not.

  61. iserp, most here were lauding Jackson’s return on Chandler at the time; it’s disingenuous to criticize it in hindsight unless you were at least lukewarm on the deal at the time.

    I am not criticizing it. When I say it was not an option for Jackson, i am not disagreeing with him: Keeping Chandler and Felton would have been terrible, we would have kept a toxic locker room, won some more games, and we would not have some extra young players. The goal of the trade was get rid of toxic players, bring some triangly ones and get younger. PJ probably expected it to be just a retool, but didnt hesitate to go nuclear once it was clear that the team was bad. In the end, Thanasis and Cle have not panned out, but that is not a problem of the trade.

    I was trying to defend PJ saying that you cant hold the return for Chandler to the same standards as the return for Rondo.

  62. Brian, it is laughable for you to be saying this now. You said yourself at the time that he got “fair return” for Chandler. Now you are saying that he was desperate and sold low.

    He got fair value for trading Chandler and Felton. I don’t think he should have packaged them in the first place. I think he over-prioritized dumping Felton. After all, had he not traded Felton, what was the worst case scenario? The Knicks having their worst season in franchise history? Oops, that happened anyways.

    Think about that for a second – he made the trade with the intent of competing for the playoffs in 2014-15 and instead they had the worst season in Knick history. That’s a bit of an oopsie.

  63. Brian, his “prediction” was largely in line with every other basketball expert. Most had the Knicks winning in the low to mid 30’s, which was just outside playoff range, and his statements were qualified with the poor state of the EC. Then a bunch of unpredictable shit happened.

    That said, it really didn’t matter much. He said when he was hired that it would take a few years to build a contending team, and that he would change the culture of the team to what he believed in and what was consistent with his prior success, including the triangle system.

    To be fair, if you ignore the on-court results of the last two years, is it fair to say that the team’s current situation relative to the long-term plan is in reasonable alignment with those two goals? I think it is, and frankly, the 21-21 start should not be so soon forgotten. It wasn’t just the winning, it was the way we were playing…intelligent, unselfish basketball (especially Melo!) It didn’t matter that we had a low-level coach and a bunch of deeply flawed players. There was a sense that we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not going to lose sight of that because of the way the season turned. I believe we are on the path that Phil plotted when he took over the team.

  64. I think this thread is kind of hilarious. Lots of people on this blog talk about how New York fans have the patience for a rebuild, why can’t the front office just realize that and get to it?!? And then as we rebuild, FIRE PHIL!

    I get it: Max and Brian and others feel a real rebuild is Hinkie & everyone traded for draft picks. But that is no sure path either. People make decisions on best available knowledge shit happens, you look good or bad partly dependent on luck. Question is, are you better or worse positioned for the future?

    The Knicks are better positioned. Suggesting that Guitar Jimmy step in is exactly the kind of impatient shortsightedness that caused the problem in the first place.

  65. Question is, are you better or worse positioned for the future?

    So it’s “Are they better off than the worst season in franchise history?” As Bryce Harper would put it, that’s a clown question, bro.

    But that is no sure path either.

    I also love this. “It it is not guaranteed to lead to a title, therefore it is a not a better path.” The only fear of rebuilding around the draft is if you don’t get a good top pick. The Knicks got that already with Porzingis. They’re already there. Now they just have to follow through with an actual rebuild. But they can’t do that, because they gave Melo a no-trade clause. So half-assed is as good as we’re going to get. But hey, half-assed at least likely means we’ll see some playoff games sometime soon. I legitimately do like playoff games, so that’s something.

  66. The lack of NY draft picks stunts a full rebuild. Melo comes off the books after 2019.

    The next year KP will be 24.
    Jerian Grant will be 27.
    Willy Hernangomez will be 25 years old.
    The knicks draft pick next year will be 22 – 25.
    The draft pick from the year after will be 21 – 24.

    Our window for the KP knicks will be in full stride as Melo comes off the books anyway. We aren’t going to be doing anything relevant before then and we’ll be able to add some other pieces in the mean time.

  67. For every contending team that suffered through a full rebuild e.g. OKC, there is a team that is in perpetual rebuild mode, e.g. Minnesota. There is no way to judge whether the Knicks would have been better off by not signing Melo. For example, if we picked 2 or 3 in last year’s draft and took either Russell or Okafor instead of Porzingis, the rebuild might have been set back several years. Same is true if we had drafted Hezonja or Mudiay instead of Porzingis. Jackson has taken the middle road: make measured moves that might result in more wins now, but that don’t hurt the future no matter what happens.

    For example, if you kill Jax for the DWill and Afflalo deals, don’t you have to credit him for the two situations turning out to make any scenario that unfolds palatable? Afflalo on a 1-year $8 mill deal as a backup is not a killer. Losing DWill at $5 mill is also not a killer. The fear was that DWill would play like a stud and we would lose him (didn’t happen) or that he would suck completely and we’d be stuck with him (didn’t happen). Afflalo is pretty much who he’s been, a decent 7th man who should not be a starter and probably a $5-6 million rotation player on a good team.

  68. Think about that for a second – he made the trade with the intent of competing for the playoffs in 2014-15 and instead they had the worst season in Knick history. That’s a bit of an oopsie.

    I am always undefeated playing results.

    Felton was an out of shape slob of a basketball player. Chandler has laid down on the Knicks and wanted a big contract at the end of his career that wasn’t justified. They both had to go.

    The player they got Calderon, was a massive upgrade over Felton. He played 81 games his last season in Dallas >2400 minutes to a WS/48 =.122

    If you knew Calderon’s calf/Achilles was going to explode and Melo was going to go lame a few games into the season and play 40 games on one leg before having surgery, then yes of course it wasn’t an ooooops!

  69. Not to mention JR being hurt and being suspended 5 games, Shump having mysterious off-season surgery, and Dalembert going from WS of .147 and a TS of .603 in Dallas to the worst center in the NBA.

    To be fair, Phil did expect that Bargnani would be a pleasant surprise.

  70. I don’t think Phil saying that Bargnani would be a pleasant surprise can be used against him. He inherited him; that statement was encouragement at a time that made sense – certainly better than saying, he’s an enigma who’s unlikely to ever realize his ability because he’s a weak-minded slacker.

    To Brian: I appreciate the condescension, but yeah, there is no sure fucking path. Because your best player could hurt himself on a ref’s foot. Because your #1 draft pick could never play a game due to serious foot problems. Because your #1 pick could turn out to have issues that, without leadership, lead to off-the-court troubles that hamper his development. Because the younger, healthier center you acquire in a trade, who has a similar TS and other stats to your current older, prone-to-injury-and-being-punked-in-the-playoffs center, could suddenly start playing really poorly. It must be awesome to be able to anticipate all of that and make perfect decisions. The rest of us live in a world where we have limited information, make our best guess, and shit happens – sometimes good, sometimes bad.

    So it’s “Are they better off than the worst season in franchise history?” As Bryce Harper would put it, that’s a clown question, bro.

    I guess it’s a clown question if all you care about is wins and losses. Those of us who are focused on assets and flexibility disagree. Those of us concerned about the aforementioned center, who always disappeared in big games and was one injury away from falling off a cliff, disagree. Those of us who aren’t excited about a PG who threatened his GF with a gun, and who was always out of shape, disagree. Those of us who were not impressed by the drama of a blockhead who made amazing shots but frequently stunk because clubbing was more appealing than being consistent disagree. In other words, those of us who would be able to endure a Hinkie and be patient without throwing childish tantrums disagree.

  71. I think rama’s point about appealing to Dolan is well taken. Why would you ask Dolan to bail on Jackson at this point? He is finally NOT fucking up the future of the team by meddling in his GM’s business and now you’re actually asking him to meddle?

    Whatever Jackson has done or not done, at least we know who to hold accountable. He’s not a Dolan puppet (see: D. Walsh) or the beneficiary of some weird bromance (see: I Thomas.) And again, he has done nothing to kill all hope of building a contender in the next 2-4 years.

    I also don’t get the love for JVG, he who quit on the Knicks and accomplished very little in Houston.

  72. I guess it’s a clown question if all you care about is wins and losses. Those of us who are focused on assets and flexibility disagree. Those of us concerned about the aforementioned center, who always disappeared in big games and was one injury away from falling off a cliff, disagree. Those of us who aren’t excited about a PG who threatened his GF with a gun, and who was always out of shape, disagree. Those of us who were not impressed by the drama of a blockhead who made amazing shots but frequently stunk because clubbing was more appealing than being consistent disagree. In other words, those of us who would be able to endure a Hinkie and be patient without throwing childish tantrums disagree.

    Easy solution: waive Felton and JR. Actually get value for Shumpert and Chandler by not forcing Felton & JR on another team!

    Not only does this bring in more future assets, but it clears more cap room. Felton and JR’s contracts cost less than Calderon’s, so even having them on the books another 2 seasons is cheaper than having Calderon on the books. So even if you agree with this perspective, you can’t credit Jackson for this move.

    And the triple whammy no one’s even mentioned yet is that the crown jewel of those two trades was Shane Larkin, and Phil opted out of his contract before he’d even played a game in a Knick uniform.

  73. I guess it’s a clown question if all you care about is wins and losses. Those of us who are focused on assets and flexibility disagree. Those of us concerned about the aforementioned center, who always disappeared in big games and was one injury away from falling off a cliff, disagree. Those of us who aren’t excited about a PG who threatened his GF with a gun, and who was always out of shape, disagree. Those of us who were not impressed by the drama of a blockhead who made amazing shots but frequently stunk because clubbing was more appealing than being consistent disagree. In other words, those of us who would be able to endure a Hinkie and be patient without throwing childish tantrums disagree.

    It’s a clown question because it sets up a ridiculously low standard to meet. “Are you better or worse positioned for the future?” How could they not be better positioned for the future when they won 17 games in 2014-15 and got rid of nearly the entire team? So in that pointlessly binary question, then sure, they’re better positioned than they were when they had the worst record in the history of the Knick franchise. They’re not particularly well-positioned for the future, but they are better off than when they lost more games than any Knick team ever. So it’s a question whose answer doesn’t actually tell you anything of note.

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