Phil Jackson’s entrance to Madison Square Garden was once seen as a red carpet event. In retrospect, the Zen Master was the right man for the job. Here’s why.
To put it in the 2016 NBA Finals perspective, Phil Jackson enters New York City’s front office at the time Draymond Green is suspended from playing Game 5 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The New York Knicks were a time-bomb and Jackson was in his first day of bomb-defusing school (with a PhD in everything else).
Amar’e Stoudemire – 2010
Amar’e Stoudemire is acquired by the New York Knicks via a sign-and-trade. The contract is a five-year deal worth approximately $100 million. The Suns receive a future second-round draft pick and cash exceptions.
After developing as the Suns’ top power forward, Stoudemire’s injuries with the Knicks would keep him from playing solid minutes and eventually lead to the demise of his career.
Tyson Chandler – 2011
Tyson Chandler is acquired by the Knicks on a sign-and-trade. He’s due approximately $56 million over four years. The Knicks sent cash considerations and another second-round draft pick to Washington.
The former Defensive Player of the Year was a big part of the Knicks’ 54-win season in 2012-13, alongside Carmelo Anthony and company. Chandler’s scoring drops significantly as the team falls apart the year J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert are traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Andrea Bargnani is acquired in a trade that the sent Knicks’ 2016 first-round draft pick and second-round picks in 2014 and 2017 to the Toronto Raptors. Well, we all know that was a success.
For Toronto, perhaps.
With injuries and Bargnani’s inability to hit consistent jumpers and/or have a basketball IQ greater than 1, the Knicks gave up a treasure chest in return for a player who is not currently playing in the NBA.
The Carmelo Anthony trade also took a toll on our future first-round picks. Had it not been for a disappointing 2013-2014 NBA season filled with veterans too far past their primes, and players who had previously shown signs of greatness along with the lack of talent off the bench, the Carmelo Anthony trade might have worked out OK.
That is the world Phil Jackson entered, only to realize that he would have to use all of his cap space to re-sign Anthony in 2014. Granted, Anthony deserved every penny; when you score 62 points at the Garden, you deserve that type of money.
So for Phil Jackson, the organization was a time-bomb waiting to explode. Much like when Draymond Green got called for a technical foul in the Portland series, and you thought to yourself. “If I’m Steve Kerr, I would entice Green to get another technical so that he won’t get suspended in a game that will really matter.”
Luckily, Jackson had the cojones to get rid of J.R. Smith’s antics and dissolve a team that showed absolutely no chemistry; a team that relied heavily on ISO ball. With players’ skills declining, ISO ball was becoming even more problematic when defense wasn’t what the team was known for.
Jackson has his eyes on the ball. The ball is just two-to-three years away from a championship ring, but Jackson understands how important the future is, after realizing how costly it can be. During 2015-2016’s NBA rumors regarding Jeff Teague, Ricky Rubio, and Kevin Martin, Jackson made it clear that the Knick’s 2018 first round pick was off limits.
“Phil said they weren’t dealing it” was how one source put it, per Ian Begley of ESPN.
Now, not every move Jackson made was something I personally respected. Was bringing Jose Calderon worth the saying goodbye to Tyson Chandler’s defense? Well, in his defense, Chandler would never again show signs of the great player he once was.
Was hiring Derek Fisher the right move? I personally wanted Fisher fired when we lost a regular season game that was supposed to be an easy win because he sat Porzingis in the 4th quarter (Among many, many errors like that). But then Kurt Rambis took over when I thought Fisher was getting a feel to become a good coach. We now have Jeff Hornacek, so let’s not go there.
Welcome Joakim Noah.
Is Joakim Noah, at age 31, worth $72 million over the next 4 years? Was trading for an injury-prone point guard like Derrick Rose a wise move in exchange for our main rebounder? Adding Noah surely doesn’t sound too contemplating when you realize he has also suffered injuries in the past two seasons.
However, the upside is very big. If both of these players can eclipse their best season in the NBA, LeBron James is in trouble.
It’s a big gamble, but then again, so was Kristaps Porzingis.