The New York Knicks have been struggling all season, in desperate need of a life preserver. They got one over the weekend when former Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson signed on to become the president of the ball club. Clearly the circumstances would’ve flowed differently had the future Hall of Fame coach signed on to repeat the duties as coach, that saw him collect 11 NBA titles, but the addition of an acclaimed face like Jackson should help stabilize an organization that’s in free-fall. The talent on the Knicks roster might not compare to the assortment that Jackson has coached through the years, including Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, but Carmelo Anthony does happen to reside on the current lineup. But he’s also a pending free agent trapped in the middle of a disastrous season. Could Jackson’s hire be enough to entice Anthony to stay? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate the question.
Green: It’s a start. Jackson certainly brings some credentials to the table, which should entice Anthony to certainly entertain Jackson’s plans for a rebuild. Jackson’s effect on the Knicks could be like what Pat Riley has done for the Miami Heat or even what Larry Bird (Indiana) and Danny Ainge (Boston) have been able to do. The idea of leaving the executive booth too would probably float around for a while but just having Jackson as a part of the organization should be enough for a successful resurgence. There aren’t too many places where Anthony could go that would have a front office figure similar to Jackson, which would probably help drive other free agents to New York as well. The talent really isn’t bad in New York anyway. A new head coach and a piece or two should be enough to get them back into the top half of the NBA Eastern Conference, should Anthony stay put.
Riley: New York needs somebody who’s either going to coach or play. Not somebody sitting behind a desk in a leather chair, talking on the phone. As accomplished as Jackson is, the Knicks are a disaster right now and can Anthony afford to wait for Jackson to develop a rebuild/reload plan with his prime years hanging in the balance? If I’m Anthony, you have to look around at the other teams in the league with structure and talent already in place. Not wait for it to come to fruition under a first-time team president.
Green: Whether Anthony leaves or not, he would still have to wait on a team’s development either way. There would still be a transition period for cohesion to develop if he left for another team the same way it took the Heat a year before they won the title. Teams nowadays can pretty much make over their whole roster in a year or two so it wouldn’t take New York long to get some reinforcements in place. Unless Anthony’s joining the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, Pacers or the Heat as the teams are currently constructed, is there really any scenario that Anthony could walk into and win a title immediately? He might be better off giving Jackson some time while still playing in Madison Square Garden and sleeping in his own bed in his hometown city. Excluding what it would take to resign Anthony, New York will have around $50 million to play with in the summer of 2015 and if Anthony can just wait out next season, the Knicks could be in business once again.
Riley: Jackson’s “resign pitch” to Anthony is going to be based on nothing but pure hope, patience and speculation. That same sales pitch from another team is going to be predicated off current talent, current success and Anthony being the final piece to a potential Finals team. Should any other franchise with the talent and the coach already in place such as Chicago show interest, then Anthony would definitely have to listen. Chicago’s already steps ahead of where the Knicks want to be so why wouldn’t a 30-year old All Star at the peak of his career weigh that scenario versus a rebuild? Anthony’s going to have his options this summer. Jackson’s hiring was a great add but unless he’s coaching I can’t see what he would offer outside of drawing up plays that would have the Knicks do a 180 and be able to contend immediately. Especially when there could be several other options awaiting Carmelo that could produce quicker results for a player short on time.