Are you ready for some posting and toasting? Perhaps some dishing and swishing? Basketball is back at the Garden but it doesn’t look like the Knicks are equipped for a season of spinning and winning.
Last season was a major step backward for the NBA’s favorite team to hate as they finished in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and missed the playoffs by one game. Changes were made, but it’s hard to imagine substantial improvement for New York.
The two most important offseason acquisitions will not play a minute of basketball this year, or any year for that matter. Bringing in former Knick and all time great coach Phil Jackson as president of basketball operations was a step in the right direction for the perennially perplexed franchise.
Jackson’s fingerprints will be all over this team and it starts at the top with the hiring of Derek Fisher as head coach. Fisher is a proven veteran player who has always looked as if he would transition seamlessly into coaching.
Ramapo senior Pete Rocchio is excited, but hesitant with his feelings toward Fisher.
“It's not guaranteed that a good player will be a good coach,” said Rocchio. “I’m glad he played for [Phil Jackson] with the Lakers and hopefully they will work well together.”
A harmonious relationship between Fisher and Jackson will be of great value as they try to implement the tried and true triangle offense that brought each of them success in the past. In order to be effective, the triangle requires players with the mental capability to make a multitude of correct decisions while executing the offense.
Jackson did his best with the Knicks' current cap space to bring in such players. Most notable are veteran center Samuel Dalembert, who is going to have to show his ability to pass the ball, and diminutive Spanish point guard Jose Calderon, whose vision and high level of energy should fit perfectly in the new system.
For a chance at the title, returning Knicks players like JR Smith and Amare Stoudemire will have to regain the high level of play they were once known for. Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. both need to take the next step in their career and start contributing on a consistent basis, and rotation players like Shane Larkin and Quincy Acy will have to fill roles that championship teams need to win.
The bottom line is, this team only goes as far as Carmelo Anthony takes them. Coming off his best individual season where he averaged a league high 38.7 minutes per game and 27.4 points, the Knicks' success is predicated on his ability to retain this stellar run of play. Rocchio agrees that Melo is the Knicks only hope this season.
“He played so well last year, it’s not hard to see him do it again,” Rocchio said. “They need to help him on offense but I don’t see where it’s going to come from.”
The Knicks are in the lower middle class of the Eastern Conference and finishing anywhere above sixth would be an accomplishment. This team is in a rebuilding phase so it looks like Knicks fans will just have to wait until next year: they’re used to it.