Nov 8, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Roy Hibbert (17) grabs a rebound between New York Knicks power forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) and New York Knicks center Robin Lopez (8) defending during the 4th qtr at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: The Knicks won 99-95. Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Developing the Future
If Phil Jackson were to launch a search for a new coach, it would be hard for me to not want to shake things up by also thinking of other unconventional names over Patrick Ewing like San Antonio Spurs alumni Billy Bayno. It would be great to see Becky Hammon herself become the first female head coach in NBA history.
Who wouldn’t think James Dolan would do that solely to get back at everyone who criticized him for bring Isiah Thomas to the Liberty?
In the end, there’s one main reason why I’d vouch for Ewing, and that’s Kristaps Porzingis.
Oct 28, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guardMichael Carter-Williams
(5) shoots against New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) during the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
So far, Porzingis has impressed many by how well he’s adapting to league. In fact, the last Knicks rookie to put up 40 points and 30 rebs in their first 4 games like Porzingis has was Ewing himself.
The hard truth is that Melo is not the future of the Knicks anymore; it’s Porzingis, and there isn’t anything the Knicks should focus their efforts on more than developing him accordingly.
Of course, developing players is something the Knicks have one of the worst track records in doing, but Ewing is someone who has extensive experience in specifically working with seven footers.
When Ming came to the Rockets, Ewing was able to relate to him on a personal level since he also came to America from a different country to play sports. Ewing found great success in helping Ming become an NBA star. Later, Ewing would work on developing Dwight Howard in Orlando, and now resides over Al Jefferson on the Hornets.
Ewing might be able to do the same with Porzingis, especially since no one alive knows the pressures of being a Knick more than him. There isn’t any other coaching candidate that would be able to do this like Ewing could, and though it doesn’t show up on any advanced statistics, it’s important to be able to relate to players on a personal level to garner trust in them and buy into a coach’s vision.
Ewing being a coach would also still mean that Phil could bring on a cadre of other assistant coaches that could support Ewing in areas that aren’t his strongest suit.
I don’t think Ewing has receivd a fair shot at being a coach and I suspect part of that isn’t just the reasons alluded to in Beck’s article. I think his notorious curtness with media certainly has curried him much favor in the basketball press world.
I personally have been on the receiving end of Ewing’s rudeness and it still leaves a nasty impression on me today, but being likable isn’t a necessary coaching requirement as long as you have the respect of your team.
During Phil Jackson’s first press conference, he alluded to the importance of honoring the Knicks history and bringing back the culture of a team that has been tarnished by years of losing and off-court distractions. To that end, a dramatic return for Ewing to Madison Square Garden wouldn’t just be a great story and a good strategic move for a future Knicks team with Porzingis at its center, but it could very well also be Jackson fulfilling a promise he made on first day on the job.