Don’t Lie To Us Phil, Are the Knicks Rebuilding?

Knicks Free Agents : Derrick Rose. Sasha Vujacic. Justin Holiday. Ron Baker.

2016-17 Knicks Weaknesses29th: Shooting Guard Scoring. 28th: Free Throw Attempts. 26th: Defensive Rating. 25th: Bench Points, Backcourt Points. 24th: Fast Break Points. 23rd: Field Goal Percentage, Opponent Points, Center Scoring. 21st: Three Point Percentage, Three Point Attempts.

2016-17 Knicks Strengths3rd: Offensive Rebounding. 4th: Blocks, Small Forward Scoring. 5th: Total Rebounding. 7th: 3-Point Defense,. Power Forward Scoring. 8th: Frontcourt Points. 10th: Free Throw Percentage, Starters Points.

2017-18 Knicks Largest Contracts: Carmelo Anthony $24,243,760. Joakim Noah $17,765,000. Courtney Lee $11,747,890.

Player Options: None.

According to reports, the Knicks are trying to steal one of the Blazers first round picks (the Blazers have three) for the draft. The Knicks already have a lottery pick and if they can manage to flip something to get another first round pick then Phil Jackson is tipping his hand. He is blowing up the idea that the Knicks are trying to get the right point guard and the right backcourt to make the playoffs. He’s going young.

Once, you train your eyes on the lottery, the playoffs are a distant goal and rebuilding is upfront and center. Young players don’t win.

The NBA Finals are evidence of what young players mean to championship teams: not much. The Cavs are a team of veterans, no rookies allowed.

Before the Finals, the Warriors played Patrick McCaw (rookie) and Ian Clark (3rd year) 14 minutes per game. Collectively, McCaw and Clark added 12.5 points which was 9% of the scoring total. Or to put it another way, 91% of the Warriors shot making was done by veterans. Veterans got them into the Finals.

The blueprint is simple: want to get into the playoffs?  Sign veterans who fit your philosophy.

Want to rebuild? Develop rookies.

It’s not just the NBA Finals where young players are average. The 8th seed in the East, the Chicago Bulls, played the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. Paul Zipser (rookie), Cristiano Feliciano (second year) and Bobby Portis (second year) played all six games. They were responsible for 17.2 points a game. Rookie Darnell Valentine played in 4 games and scored 5 points total. Second year player Jerian Grant scored 16 points total.

Going the young player route means you have washed your hands of being a contender, of trying to lure free agents. No one can blame the Knicks. The last few seasons they have tried to treat a knife wound with a bandaid. Their collection of loose parts didn’t fit, were overpaid or were flat out busts. That is on Jackson’s watch.

Jackson has never been great at rebuilding. He never had the opportunity because as a coach he loved veteran players because they knew how to win.

But Phil isn’t a coach anymore and the responsibility of front office mastermind is to look out for the best interest of the organization and develop talent for the future. The worst malfeasance is what the Knicks have been used to, an empty cupboard, a dry well.

Young or old, the Knicks need scoring talent, both in the midrange and on the perimeter. They need attackers who can get to the rim, finish and draw fouls to send them to the line. They need a point guard- hello Jeff Teague. They need athletic wings with quick hands that can deflect passes and then in transition run a fast break without botching it.

Jeff Hornacek was supposed to be an enabler of guards in a fast moving offensive pace.  A year ago, the Knicks were 26th in assists. This year, they were 19th. A year ago, the Knicks were 26th in field goal percentage; this year they were 23rd. They were 20th in 3-point percentage in 2015-16. This year they were 21st.  A slight improvement didn’t change the fact that the Knicks were holding the ball and throwing up a lot of bricks. While Hornacek’s offense was supposed to move players around and move the ball, the shooters could not make shots.

Half of last year’s team was born in the 80’s. No wonder they were 24th in fast break points.

Want to rebuild, Phil? Then say so. Knick fans just want to know what you are doing. Make up your mind. You can’t want water one minute and the next minute say my bad, you’re not thirsty. You don’t get to have it both ways.

Note to the wise: this way is so not working.


photo via llananba