With an impressive win by the Hawks over the Heat on Saturday night, Atlanta secured themselves the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, thus eliminating the Knicks as well.
With that, realization that this season was a complete and utter failure by New York has come. There will be no squeezing into the playoffs on account of a late-season surge, or a slip-up by another struggling team.
And yet, there’s reason to be optimistic. Hope is in the air with the presence of thirteen-time NBA champion Phil Jackson as the Knicks’ President of Basketball Operations. It’s time for the man with the plan to step up and put his stamp on the team and city that sparked his own individual success story.
So with that in mind, what will next season be like? Will Jackson’s search for a handful of diamonds in the rough via potential trades and/or free agency be enough to ensure New York remains competitive at all next year? Or, as fans are all too used to, will it be a year of struggles and frustration as everyone waits for the next best thing to come along?
Prior to the summer of 2010, Donnie Walsh was ushered in to help change the culture of the Knicks. He aimed to build a winner, and in order to begin such a process, cleaned house in the months that followed to ensure New York had the best opportunity to do so.
But LeBron James’ snub of the Knicks altered such plans, and as Walsh and co. scrambled to come up with something to show for their respective preparation, the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire and Raymond were brought in instead.
Despite STAT’s continued hobbling injuries, his presence alone was enough to intrigue the likes of Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler into thinking they could all come together to achieve greatness in the Big Apple.
Clearly, despite some notable accomplishments along the way, things haven’t exactly turned out the way everyone hoped. It’s time for President Jackson to change things up.
And luckily for him, New York has a handful of larger expiring contracts heading into next season. Jackson won’t have to sacrifice as much as Walsh did to position the Knicks properly. Instead, he’ll just have to play the waiting game a bit, albeit it at least a full season.
There are plenty of questions to ponder. Will the Knicks be able to retain Anthony? Should they want to? Can the team put forth a respectable effort next season? What other pieces will Jackson put in place in order to help create a successful product in New York?
All of these very questions may begin to get answered in the months to follow, but such solutions may take up to a full a year to be realized.
Still, one thing Knicks fans should be able to expect from Jackson, even at this point, is an impressive hiring of a new head coach. It’s safe to say, especially after the team has fallen short of a last-minute postseason bid, that Mike Woodson has not done enough to deserve an encore of his own.
With that in mind, a search will begin. Jackson will need to sell such candidates on what can and (hopefully) will be accomplished in the seasons to follow. Much of the Knicks’ recruitment of former head coach Mike D’Antoni centered around such a motivation and promise. Hopefully this time around, things will be a bit more successful.
Whereas Steve Kerr has been widely suggested as a potential candidate to help lead the Knicks and coach the triangle, other possibilities should include former Laker and former Jackson coaching disciple turned current Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw, and Tyronn Lue, a two-time NBA champ under Jackson as a player, who has since gone to to serve as an assistant coach for Doc Rivers in Boston and Los Angeles.
In any event, changes are coming. They must.