The New York Knicks have not won an NBA championship in over 40 years. The organization and Madison Square Garden fans have been clamoring for another title after enduring decades of ineptitude. From the shortcomings during the Patrick Ewing era that saw the Knicks seemingly falter inconceivably at every near championship run to the current state of affairs. The Knicks have not lacked in entertainment. However, after countless hours of heartache and some 40 years later, entertainment and box office splashes have not fared well. The New York Knicks are just now on the verge of leaving salary cap hell after being unable to build a team worthy of contention due to their organizational dysfunction.
Many fans and basketball experts question the ability of Knicks CEO James Dolan to deliver anything resembling a championship caliber roster. The franchise lacks the players, front office personnel, and continuity necessary to do so. Even the Indiana Pacers have managed to reach the Eastern Conference finals simply by drafting and helping to develope young talent. Subsequently, the Pacers have allowed Paul George to become a two-time All NBA player/All-Star, and watched Lance Stephenson develop into one of the better shooting guards in the NBA.
At 24 and 23 years old respectfully, Indiana’s young wing players have a lot of potential. Adding them along side the 7’2″ often criticized center Roy Hibbert, and the underrated David West and one can see the difference between dysfunction and organization. The Pacers have everything the Knicks do not have in order to compete and at the very least mask themselves as a contender.
With just their $3.3 million exception the Knicks do not have the means to pry the troubled Stephenson away from Indiana. Reports indicated that Stephenson already turned down a five-year $44 million deal to re-sign at the beginning of free agency. The Brooklyn native is coming off a season in which he averaged career highs with 13.6 ppg 7.2 rpg and 4.6 apg shield shooting 49 percent from the field.
Meanwhile, in the last four seasons the Knicks have managed to shed two above average NBA head coaches. Mike D’antoni, a free-flowing offensive coach who stressed ball movement and point guard play was never intrigued by the Knicks acquisition of Anthony. The two had a a reported rift which reached a boiling point in Anthony’s second year with the team. D’antoni reportedly resigned amongst speculation he would be fired because he refused to hash out problems with Anthony any longer. Bringing in a franchise player usually is a process that a head coach is heavily involved with on any winning team.
The Knicks also traded away four starters for Carmelo Anthony, which reportedly upset D’antoni. The franchise has handicapped their payroll leaving them with insufficient cap space to sign free agents. These moves in addition to many proceeding decisions were supposed to net the Knicks a championship. However, acquiring Carmelo Anthony left the Knicks with a barren roster that could hardly win a game versus an aging Celtics championship franchise three seasons ago. Never mind being able to defeat a Miami Heat squad equipped with the best player on the planet in LeBron James. After taking over for D’antoni, Mike Woodson, succeeded the seven seconds or less guru.
Few people remember that before the Knicks called Carmelo Anthony their franchise savior, the summer of 2010 was the supposed to the year that the Knicks used all their cap room and the allure to sign LeBron James. Even after slashing salary cap and enduring two lottery seasons the Knicks came away with just Amare Stoudemire’s $100 million knees. Dwanye Wade and Chris Bosh were supposed to be possible complimentary pieces or consolation prizes but, the New York Knicks organizational dysfunction did not convince the better stars to come.
Woodson made an immediate impact on the Knicks leading them to the playoffs with an 18-6 regular season second half finish. He quickly gained the respect of the Knicks veteran infused roster. Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas mentored the Knicks younger players on the finer points of winning basketball. Carmelo Anthony finished third in MVP voting in 2012 and led the NBA in scoring. The team won 54 games and J.R Smith emerged as a prominent sidekick for Anthony. Smith won the NBA Sixth Man of the year award and averaged north of 18 ppg and 5 rpg.
However, the good times did not continue last season as the distractions mounted quickly. Smith constantly battled with Woodson due to his on court antics. In a season that saw the “mercurial guard” suspended for various behavioral issues and NBA sanctions the Knicks saw much more distractions from Smith that production. Tyson Chandler underwhelmed, failing to average double figures and play at his normally high defensive level. Raymond Felton struggled with this shooting, confidence and conditioning in rout to an embarrassing gun charge. Woodson served as the scapegoat for the team’s poor play but Felton and Chandler are also gone after Phil Jackson orchestrated the departures of all three. Winning less than 40 games after a surprise season can cause seemingly abrupt firings from many front offices.
After missing the playoffs and failing to reach the .500 mark, the New York Knicks faced the potential departure of super star Carmelo Anthony this summer. To combat this move the Knicks brought in 12-time NBA champion coach and “zen master” Phil Jackson on board. Even Anthony eventually referred to Jackson’s aquistion as a “power move” for the Knicks before back tracking and saying the move wouldn’t affect his decision.
After visiting with the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, Anthony eventually decided to re-sign with the Knicks because he felt like a “New Yorker at heart.” While Jackson has a strong of a pedigree as any coach in NBA history, he is still a novice executive. Fisher has seen much interest from NBA team’s as a potential head coach but the Knicks new head coach will be an NBA rookie on the sidelines. This summer appears to indicate that the New York Knicks have come out victorious but only the future will show if the franchise’s organizational dysfunction will continue to dominate headlines more so than its play.
Commentary by Brandon Wright