The New York Knicks are having an ok first quarter of the 2016-17 NBA season so far.
At 15-11, the Knicks have shown that they have the talent to compete at the top of the Eastern Conference, with what seems to be a good mix of young and older players who can get the job done.
Instead of harping on the fact that for the first time in some years, they actually have a chance to advance in the playoffs if they make it, the main headlines surrounding this team has been the relationship between its President and its star player and whether the player should stay because of it.
Phil Jackson, as President of the Knicks, has overwhelmingly underachieved. Whether trying to institute the alluring triangle offense that has only worked for two teams in history or having the knack for making some controversial comments at the most opportune times, Jackson hasn’t exactly been what New York hoped he would be so far.
Now, as mentioned before, there is a lot of talent on this Knicks squad with obviously Carmelo Anthony being the perennial all star player and still one of the best offensive players in the game. In addition, you have a young stud like Kristaps Porzingis who is increasingly finding his own in this league and projects to be a top five big man very soon. With offseason additions like former NBA MVP Derrick Rose and his former Bulls running mate Joakim Noah, they stack up with most starting fives in the NBA.
With this kind of talent, their 15-11 record should be the main story of their season so far. Moments of displayed greatness mixed in with moments of vast inconsistency. Instead, the story has been the relationship between Jackson and Anthony, and why it means that Melo should seek a trade.
Jackson has been notorious for speaking his mind without true regard for other people’s feelings. It’s part of the arrogance that he has assumed over his life that has also made his an eleven-time champion in this league as a coach. This is a type of arrogance you can tolerate most of the time because his pedigree far outweighs the negative effects of it. This is why, for the most part, Anthony has stayed mellow and not overtly spoken out about it in any way that would insinuate a beef between the two.
These comments that Jackson causally makes about Melo aren’t derogatory in any way; they are strictly basketball comments about Melo’s game and how it should fit within the context of this team. Things like holding onto the ball for too long and decreasing his workload to make room for Porzingis to get more opportunities offensively are key things that Jackson has said. I happen to agree with him, for the most part.
The part I don’t agree with is making these comments in the national spotlight. Jackson also has said that he and Melo go out to eat every week just to talk. I’m thinking that that would be the perfect time to tell him your thoughts on how the team should flow offensively, not to the national media who you know are going to blow the story up to create a bigger story suggesting that their is a riff between the two. This is where these comments affect the player and thus, affect the team.
As a result of Jackson’s propensity to explore his thoughts openly to the media, Melo now has to be asked about these comments and therefore diffuse them for the betterment of his team. The way the media works, however, is the more you diffuse it, the more they suspect something is going on. This constant back and forth has gotten to the point now where many people are saying that Melo should seek a trade in order to have a better chance to compete for a title and to open the door for Porzingis to really take the lead role.
A couple of problems with this though: One, as I mentioned, the Knicks are very talented and have a great chance to make some noise in the playoffs. Obviously, it would be hard pressed for them to get through Cleveland, but they can certainly compete if they continue to come together. For Melo to leave this team, where else would he go? What team would truly want to take on a max contract and how would they implement him? As of now, the Knicks are his best option. He’s comfortable there, he has taken a great leadership among his teammates, and he has already started to sacrifice scoring numbers for wins, which leads me to my next point.
People are calling for Porzingis to have a bigger role in the offense. From last year, Porzingis has made a jump in improvement on the offensive end and it has been showing in his play where he is taking more shots and has been featured player this season. Melo, on the other end, is taking less shots and focusing more on ball movement and the defensive end. He is still going to have possessions where he isolates and looks for his own shots, but when you’re one of the greatest offensive players of all time, you deserve that right. We know that he can play with a lot of talent. We’ve seen him do it the last three Olympics and this past one in particular where he was the elder statesmen (much like he is in NY) and still found a way to adapt his game to fit the young talent that was on the roster and make a big impact. He can do the same in New York.
Bottom Line: Melo is still a good fit in NY and it’s where he belongs. Despite Jackson’s comments, he has stayed calm and continued to go about his work the way his team needs him to and sacrificed a lot in order to make this work.
Do you think that Carmelo Anthony should seek a trade from the Knicks because of Phil Jackson? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3