An Open Letter to Phil Jackson and Jeff Hornacek

Nov 14, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks general manager Phil Jackson sits alone as he watches the Knicks take on the Dallas Mavericks during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 14, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks general manager Phil Jackson sits alone as he watches the Knicks take on the Dallas Mavericks during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

After winning a game most expected the New York Knicks to lose against the Indiana Pacers, the Knicks lost a game they were expected to win against the Dallas Mavericks.

The New York Knicks’ season continues to fall apart. The Knicks brought their talents, and full health, to Dallas last night to take on the undermanned Mavericks in hopes of securing a second straight victory.

The Mavericks were without Wesley Matthews, lost Deron Williams to injury early in the game, and Andrew Bogut only played 21 minutes. This left a lineup of Seth Curry, Pierre Jackson, Dorian-Finney Smith, Harrison Barnes and Dirk Nowitzki.

The Knicks, which have been on the opposite end of luck plenty of times this season, were granted two key injuries last night and still managed to blow another game on the road.

Somehow, the Knicks’ defense made Seth Curry look more like his brother Stephen Curry.

The Knicks entered the fourth quarter down 78-73, and according to Knicks announcer Mike Breen, the Knicks are 2-22 when entering the fourth quarter with a deficit.

That’s concerning.

After the game, Derrick Rose went on to blame the road loss on the lack of defense. While I don’t disagree with his assessment, it’s not the biggest reason for their loss.

This goes back to my previous article alluding to the Knicks’ inability to execute efficient play-calling down the stretch. The Knicks turned the ball over eight times in the fourth quarter, while the Mavericks turned the ball over seven times the entire game.

The Knicks are 7-10 in games decided by five points or less. That is statistical proof that the Knicks cannot get key stops on defense or execute on offense when the game is on the line.

With a season that began with so much promise, fans will likely look back on this season and say, “This Knicks team was 14-10 at one point.”

Unless the Knicks want the highlight of the season to be the fact that they were four games above .500 after 24 games, they have to make changes.

Phil Jackson

We’ll start with the head of the snake: Phil Jackson.

Prior to the season, it seemed as though Jackson had finally come through on his plan to bring this Knicks team from bottom-feeders to legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Instead, this season has been nothing short of a disaster when you consider the talent-level on this team. Rose, Courtney Lee, Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings, Justin Holiday, Willy Hernangomez, Kyle O’Quinn, Ron Baker, and Mindaugas Kuzminskas.

A team with that roster is 20-27 and currently No. 11 in the Eastern Conference.

While the process down in Philadelphia seems to be working itself out, the process in New York is nearing it’s final days.

How much is Jackson to blame? Plenty.

Since the season began, Jackson has been at odds with Anthony. Whether it was his interview with CBS criticizing Anthony’s issues with moving the ball, or his longtime friend Charley Rosen writing an article claiming Anthony has passed his days of being “useful.”

Jackson, who willingly gave Anthony his no-trade clause, is now trying to figure out ways to have Anthony lift his no-trade clause and agree to be traded.

Remember that meeting that Jackson and Anthony had last week? You know, the one where Anthony reportedly told Jackson he had no intention of jumping ship?

The following week, Marc Stein of ESPN reported that the Knicks have contacted the Cleveland Cavaliers trying to swap Anthony for Kevin Love, to which the Cavaliers declined.

Today, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported that the Knicks have also reached out to the Los Angeles Clippers and the Boston Celtics about trading Anthony.

So, why shop Anthony behind the scenes knowing that he has a no-trade clause?

Jackson wants to further create the illusion that Anthony is the sole reason for the Knicks’ troubles this season, and it’s becoming more apparent than ever.

I’m not saying that trading Anthony is a bad move, depending on the quality of return.

What is Kevin Love going to do for the Knicks?

Porzingis already plays the 4 position, and the Knicks have plenty of depth at center. Yes, Love is four years younger, but trading for him won’t even alleviate cap space with his $20 million per year.

The Clippers deal wouldn’t even involve DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, or Chris Paul. So, the Knicks would end up trading Anthony to the Clippers for a combination of Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick, and Austin Rivers.

So, the Knicks trade a 32-year old Anthony for 36-year old Crawford, and 32-year old Redick. If rebuilding is the focus, this trade accomplishes nothing.

Rivers would be a nice pickup, but it’s hard to imagine Doc Rivers trading his son.

Most importantly, it still doesn’t address the most important issue on the Knicks—a point guard.

I’m happy that Rose is healthy again. Unfortunately, he’s a score-first point guard.

The Knicks need a floor general, kind of like the guy who currently plays point guard for the Clippers, who just so happens to be a free-agent this upcoming season.

Here is my advice to Jackson: trade Rose.

As we’ve learned in recent weeks, trading Anthony is unlikely. Instead, Jackson should look to trade Rose before the deadline when Rose’s stock is the highest.

Win shares is an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a single player. On the season, Anthony has a win share of 4.0, Porzingis with 3.1, Noah with 2.1, and Rose with 1.5.

So, while Jackson may try to convince the public that Anthony is at fault for the Knicks debacle this season, I encourage everyone to take a deeper look.

Jennings actually leads the team in assists with 4.7, compared to Rose’s 4.5.

The evidence is most obvious late in games, when Rose struggles to get everyone in their right spots. As a result, the ball movements stops, leading Anthony and Rose to trade hero-shots.

One’s man’s trash is another’s man treasure, and some teams may be very interested in a trial run with Rose considering he’s on the final year of his contract.

In a perfect world, you’d package Rose and Noah together and see what the return value is. Realistically, it’s a long shot. Just Rose? Not so much.

If you can get a draft pick and maybe a young prospect in return, I believe that’s enough to pull the trigger. You clear up another $20 million in the offseason and make a run at either Kyle Lowry, Jrue Holiday, or Chris Paul.

If Jackson hadn’t ruined his relationship with Anthony, it’s possible that Anthony could have helped recruit Paul to join the Knicks next season. Since the Knicks are still in win-now mode, adding a floor general like Paul would be the best-case scenario.

If not, you’d get value in return for Rose, and look to trade Anthony in the offseason where he and management can sit down and evaluate possible trade destinations.

In all likelihood, Jackson will continue his pursuit of trading Anthony. If a deal gets done, it’s hard to see a scenario where the Knicks would benefit from a trade.

Trading Anthony to the Celtics would be beneficial, but Danny Ainge has already refused to trade his lottery pick in return.

Whether he stays or goes, it’s unfair to put the blame on Anthony.

Jackson gave Anthony a no-trade clause and promised to build a team around him. Halfway through the first season of having actual talent on the Knicks, Jackson wants to trade Anthony.

Welcome to New York.

Jeff Hornacek

Hornacek agreed to become the next Knicks head coach this offseason, and one has to question whether or not he regrets that decision. Nevertheless, he’s here, and can make some lineup adjustments to put the team in a better position to win games.

Number one: bench Noah.

It’s evident at this point that Noah isn’t contributing enough to the Knicks to continue to yield a significant amount of minutes.

Since returning from injury, Noah has taken away minutes from O’Quinn, who was starting to find a rhythm in Noah’s absence. With the emergence of Hernangomez, minutes are limited at center.

The time has come for the Knicks to begin looking towards a future without Anthony, and that future must include both Hernangomez and O’Quinn.

Hornacek can’t continue to hinder the growth of the young talent on this team at the expense of giving Noah minutes simply because of his salary.

As long as Anthony remains on this team, he should be starting at power forward, which means sliding Porzingis to the center position.

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Hernangomez and O’Quinn have played together this season, and it seemed as if they had some good chemistry going before Noah returned to the lineup.

With Anthony, Porzingis, and Noah playing at the same time, the paint is clogged. The best teams in the NBA are successful at spreading the floor, and the Knicks should follow suit.

The Knicks starting lineup all had a +/- in the negatives for the second game in a row. Rose had a +/- of -13, Lee with -5, Anthony with -15, Porzingis with -11, and Noah with -7.

That starting lineup simply doesn’t work. Hornacek should switch it up.


Rose, Lee, Kuzminskas, Anthony, Porzingis


Jennings, Baker, Holiday, O’Quinn, Hernangomez

There’s nothing guaranteed in the NBA, including this lineup change.

However, at the very least, you give quality minutes to your young players that will likely be on this team for years to come. Also, it’s worth having a conversation with Kurt Rambis about changing his defensive scheme.

Every time the opposing team runs the pick-and-roll, the Knicks switch, leaving someone out of place that leads to easy buckets.

At the end of the day, it comes down to effort. Switching on every pick and roll is a lack of effort. If you’re not going to fight over every screen, the defense will suffer.

The Knicks season has been far from ideal, but if the Knicks want to start planning for the future, there are some necessary moves that need to be made in the next few weeks.

Maybe the Knicks should take a play out of the Sixers playbook, and look to begin the process of rebuilding.

Must Read: Improve by the trade deadline or rebuild

Unfortunately, it’s New York, and there isn’t much process without the trust.