The New York Knicks are currently in a state of both depression and glory. After their amazing run during the 2012-2013 campaign, the Knicks’ players and coaching staff, as well as their owner James Dolan came into this season with extremely high expectations. However, those expectations have sunk to an unbelievable low, and despite a recent eight-game win streak, they are still a few games behind the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks and nowhere near a sure bet to make the playoffs, even in the lowly Eastern Conference. Seeing that the current Knicks core was not going to get anywhere on its own, Dolan decided to make a power move and hired 13-time NBA champion Phil Jackson as the Knicks’ new President. With Jackson aboard and in control, the goal is to build a “team” culture in New York and obtain the Knicks’ first championship since 1973. And though Knicks’ star Carmelo Anthony has stated that he would like to stay in New York after he exercises his early termination option once this season is over, he has in no way committed to the Knick franchise and could go to greener pastures, such as Chicago or Houston. With the Knicks’ current playoff push, the Phil Jackson hiring and Carmelo Anthony’s upcoming free agency, one overarching question remains: will everything fall into place just as fans hope it will?
As the Knicks arrive at the homestretch of the season, they are hopeful that hard work and synergy obtained from a recent eight-game winning streak will guide them to the playoffs. However, the Hawks, despite a couple of recent losses, have also been playing well lately, thanks to the return of power forward Paul Millsap from a knee contusion. In addition, the Knicks will play eight of their last 12 games on the road, while the Hawks will only play five of their last 14 on the road. Nine of those 12 games will have the Knicks face off against the league’s top-15 teams, including a matchup that pits them in Miami. Atlanta will only play seven of their last 14 games against that top-15, including a game in Indiana and another at home against the Heat. While the Knicks have seen an overall team boost lately, especially with the improved play of power forward Amar’e Stoudemire, the 2014 NBA Playoffs are not shining in their future.
New York’s future overall, however, has a fairly high ceiling, thanks in part to Jackson’s potential as an NBA executive. Both Jackson and Dolan said all of the right things during the former’s introductory press conference: Dolan agreed to “willingly and gratefully” give Jackson control over all basketball decisions. The owner also said Jackson would let this season play out and then take a step back and see how the team could be improved, citing a desire to build a “team culture,” something the Knicks showed signs of last season. However, the former Bulls and Lakers coach has a few main tasks in his long-term effort. In order to instill a new culture, Jackson should look to move on from coach Mike Woodson at the end of the 2013-2014 season. Once that is in place, Jackson needs to bring quality NBA players to the Knicks. While he said that he would scout the ends of NBA benches for talent for the upcoming season, Jackson needs to be able to convince star players to take salary cuts to come play with in New York and make them more competitive. Without a superstar on their team, the Knicks will go nowhere, fast.
That superstar could still be Carmelo Anthony, whose decision this upcoming offseason is one that will affect the Knicks’ future the most. Jackson was, without hesitation, able to commit to Anthony being in the Knicks’ future plans, and that pleased the star forward; he even said that he would change his game for Jackson if he needed to. However, Anthony has some very viable options this summer, especially in the Bulls and Rockets, and if the Knicks’ future does not look bright enough, he can certainly walk. Until Anthony commits to the Knicks for at least a few more years this summer, Knicks fans should, and will, stay in suspense.
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