Fringe Friday – the New York, New York edition

on June 2017 | in Sports | by Dario Passarelli / @PapaDart | with No Comments

There was a time not too long ago when people believed that if you can make it New York, you can make it anywhere. That may still hold truth in some areas, but when it comes to sports, especially basketball, that couldn’t be any more wrong. What once was a proud franchise has fallen far out of the reach of respectability and has entered the realm of incomprehensible lunacy. For those with limited comprehension, it basically means… they’re crazy. Let’s buy a ticket and enter the big top as we start this Fringe Friday’s – New York, New York edition.

Just when you think things will start to settle down, the circus that is the New York Knicks reminds you of what happens when you let clowns run the show. The latest move this week is that President James Dolan and General Manager Phil Jackson have mutually agreed to part ways. Surprisingly, this is actually the correct move as Jackson’s tenure has been an unquestionable disaster. But before we get into why the Knicks are still a circus (despite making the right move here) let’s take a quick peek at the three year reign of Phil Jackson.

It has to be noted that the team and the organization was in a mess prior to his arrival, so Jackson is certainly not responsible for the downward spiral, but mind you, he didn’t do anything to raise them from that depth either. It is also important to note that his record as a coach is tremendous and coaching 2 teams to 11 NBA championships is a phenomenal feat. But being a GM and being a coach are very different as he has found out.

He resigned Carmelo Anthony to a max deal with a no trade clause, then complained for the next two years about how the only way the Knicks can improve is if Anthony waives his no trade clause so that he can trade him. He even had the gall to say that Anthony was being stubborn. Huh? He has hired several coaches to come in and coach I mean, to follow his coaching plan and enforce the triangle offence. Does anybody really like to get hired for a position and then constantly being told how to do and what to do in that position? No, not really and therefore the self-proclaimed “smartest man” in every room should have know that.

The GMs “best moves” last year was to bring in an often injured Derrick Rose and a seemingly uninterested Joakim Noah. With Carmelo Anthony, they were touted as the Next Big Three. Well… only if it was the year 2011. Despite a strong start to the season, the Knicks eventually became who they are and started falling down the standings missing the playoffs yet again.

Finally, you take the one move Phil Jackson did that was very good, even excellent, which was drafting Kristaps Porzingis and even that has turned sour quickly. Porzingis was the only bright light on this team and it seemed odd that he would skip out on his year end meeting with management. Well, now it may be a little clearer as Jackson has gone on record over the past few weeks stating that he was willing to trade Porzingis because the Knicks have to look to the future. Umm, the kid is only 21 years old and has at least a decade of great basketball ahead of him. How is he not part of that future?

It is quite plain to see that removing Jackson was the right thing to do. So how does this move propagate the dysfunctionality of the Knicks? First of all, you still have James Dolan which is the main issue to begin with despite him claiming not to be involved in basketball decisions. Secondly, is the timing of it all. It is impossible to believe that James Dolan woke up one day this week and all of a sudden thought, “Hmm, maybe the Knicks would be better without Phil Jackson.” He must have known ahead of time that it wasn’t working. If you had any inkling that he was not the right man for the role, why did he pick up the remaining two-year option on his contract? Not that the Knicks are hurting for money, but now they are stuck paying Jackson $24M to do, well, nothing. If he was not the man to take your team in the future, why did you let him run this year’s draft? It makes no sense, both financially or logically, whatsoever.

There is however a glimmer of hope for this struggling circus and that lies with former President of MLSE, Tim Leiweke who is rumoured to be assisting Dolan. Regardless of how he left Toronto, there is no denying that each team under his umbrella has done better. There certainly won’t be any quick turnaround in New York, but with Leiweke the ringmaster involved, you know not only will things start to get better, they will still, always be exciting.

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