By Grant Hill
Most NBA franchises are expected to face a few problems throughout the 82-game regular season. The strong and competent teams usually solve these problems effectively. If not, they at least take out a broom stick and sweep them under the rug. The New York Knicks are not one of those teams.
When things go bad for the New York Knicks, they go really bad without any hope of getting better.
The 2017 All-Star Break couldn’t have come quicker, as the Knicks desperately needed a week off from the misery that has unfolded over the first two-thirds of the season. Aside from losing meaningful games that they could, and should, have won, the team’s meltdown has been on public display in many news headlines.
On Wednesday, point guard Derrick Rose was asked if this club needs the break. Rose’s face lit up into a wide grin. “Yeah – to get our minds right, to figure out what we’re trying to do,’’ said Rose.
It’s no question that the players and coaches needed the time off to get their heads straight. However, the break is even more valuable for the front office. We have reached a point in the season where every team has played enough games to realize what they’ve become. Led by Phil Jackson, the front office now has to make a crucial decision for the future.
With the trade deadline approaching next week, Jackson has the option to completely blow this team up. The current trend in the NBA has been to rebuild: franchises opting to get younger and faster through the draft. One should look no further than the Golden State Warriors to realize what a solid model this is to follow.
The Knicks (23-34) have shown no signs of being a contender. They are currently sitting four games behind the Detroit Pistons for the eight seed in the Eastern Conference. The team has found every way to lose games. Holding two potentially high-priced assets, Jackson could waive the white flag on the season and kick-start a rebuild strongly.
According to a report by ESPN’s Ian Begley, multiple teams have shown interest in trading for Derrick Rose. Begley says he would be “surprised” if the Knicks didn’t receive calls for the point guard. Carmelo Anthony has also reportedly been on the trade block, as he stands as the teams most valuable item. Though the relationship between Jackson and Anthony has been anything but pretty lately, Anthony has never alluded to the idea that he wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause. Moving Derrick Rose and finding a trade worthy of Anthony’s approval could get the Knicks a potential haul of players, and more importantly, draft picks.
The idea of “tanking” a season is never an option that the fans and team like giving in to, since you always want your team to win. Tanking means you surrender. For Jackson, it means he admits defeat. If we’ve learned anything from his tenure as Knicks president so far, it’s that his ego will not allow him to say he’s wrong.
Many also believe that with the way things have gone, Anthony won’t allow Jackson to run him out of town, which would shut down any possibility of a trade. Jackson might stand strong and continue the rest of the season with the roster as it is currently assembled, in hopes that they could squeeze into the playoffs and make some noise. The team seems to be more talented than its record suggests.
With two paths they could take, the Knicks stand at a crossroads that will determine the future of the franchise. The coming days will show us which path they have chosen.