Phil Jackson takes blame for Knicks: ‘My experiment has fallen flat on its face’
To state that the New York Knicks have been an utter disappointment this season arguably would be the understatement of the 2014-15 NBA season. Heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Boston Celtics, the Knicks sit at 10-38, bad enough for second-worst record in the Eastern Conference. And team president Phil Jackson recently took the blame for the lost season, assuming a majority of the responsibility for the entire debacle.
“Like nothing I’ve seen before,” Jackson told Harvey Araton of The New York Times, via SI.com. “So far, my experiment has fallen flat on its face.”
Jackson predicted at the onset of training camp that the Knicks could be a playoff team. Obviously, the team is significantly closer to landing top pick in the NBA Draft Lottery than making a push for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
Jackson explained that during the midst of the team’s 16-game losing streak earlier this season, he realized the rebuilding process would require more drastic measures than those employed ahead of the season, and he decided there was no other choice but to pull the trigger on trades that jettisoned J. R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Samuel Dalembert.
Jackson referred to the moves as necessary in order to “weed out certain guys,” presumably referencing how it was important to get rid of some sizable contracts so the team would be better positioned to make a big push in the free agent market this summer.
But Jackson stopped short of saying a big free agent signing will solves the multitude of issues facing the team.
“You do need great players to win the championship, but having to always chase the best talent in free agency eventually becomes a mind-set of, well, the best talent wins as opposed to who plays the best team basketball — which is what San Antonio showed last season,” Jackson noted. “Their play was special, a team that really values passing, a system where they’re not just standing around, spacing out shooters. That’s also what Atlanta and a couple of other teams are showing this year.
“We’re not going to punch all the right buttons in the process of doing this. But we’re looking for multiple talents, drive, intelligence, guys that will play defense. We hope to develop a team, and there are a lot of agents out there looking to find a good spot for their players.”
Given that first-year head coach Derek Fisher was handed a tall order to begin with as he attempted to install Jackson’s vaunted, but complex, Triangle Offense, the fact that a gimpy Carmelo Anthony has played in only 37 of the team’s 48 games — not to mention how Amar’e Stoudemire only has played in 32 of them — certainly stacked the deck against the likelihood of the Knicks being competitive this season in light of the change in philosophy affecting the franchise from top to bottom.
Overall, Jackson characterized his tinkering “as an experiment that certainly hasn’t worked.” But he nevertheless is retaining a positive outlook for the long haul, saying, “This is just the first chapter.” The sooner the second chapter starts the better.
(photo credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)