It’s over. Our long
National New York Nightmare is over.
Phil Jackson is gone.
And while I could sit here listing off the failures and embarrassments of his tenure… you know, like giving Melo a No Trade Clause, or passing on Steve Kerr to sign Derrick Fisher, or shadow coaching and never allowing his coaches to implement their own system, or trading two nice contracts for Derrick Rose in the middle of a rape trial, or signing Joakim Noah to one of the worst contracts in league history, or doing zero due diligence or scouting in his role as tea president, or laughing at the idea of three point shooting in the modern NBA, or publicly criticizing the best player int he world when there was no reason to do so, or publicly criticizing and attempting to trade Carmelo when he has a no trade clause, or basically doing everything possible to further damage the Knicks reputation with superstars in a time when superstars run the NBA, or throwing a hissy fit over a missed exit meeting after lording over the most dysfunctional year in franchise history, or publicly threatening to trade Kristaps Porzingis for no other reason than out of spite, or just generally being a garbage, vengeful asshole of a human being who is a disgrace to humanity, or running the fucking TRIANGLE OFFENSE IN 2017…
I could sit here and talk about all of that.
But you know what? It’s over. Phil is dead. Excuse me, the Phil Jackson era is dead. It’s dead and buried and rotting in hell. And while everything in my heart is telling me to sit here and rant and rave about his tenure, I won’t.
Because as bad as the last three years have been, and as hard as Phil tried to fuck everything up in his very blatant attempt to get fired and collect the rest of his paycheck… we’re actually okay.
For all the abject negatives of Phil’s tenure, he didn’t leave the franchise in shambles.
Despite his awful track record as a negotiator, Phil refused to part with future first round draft picks. That is a good thing. And while all reports indicate that it was Clarence Gaines Jr. who pushed Phil (who did very little scouting of his own) to draft all the international talent on this roster, Phil did still have to pull the trigger.
What’s left is… and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this… the makings of a very good situation both in the short and long term.
You have a great young core (Porzingis, Ntilikina, Hernangomez, and Kuzminskas) to build around. They’ll be thoroughly entertaining and likable while also highly unlikely to compete for a playoff spot next season. And that’s perfectly okay because you have all your (first round) draft picks moving forward. That’s a great place to be as a franchise at any time, but especially so in an era where the Warriors and Lebron are blocking any and all paths towards title contention. Look at that in a vacuum and you could say it’s exactly where you want to be as an NBA franchise right now.
Now of course, this isn’t a vacuum. There’s a lot more going on. The Melo buyout/trade situation is still up in the air. The Noah contract is still on the books for three more seasons. The immortally incompetent Steve Mills is now running the team in the short term. James Dolan is still the owner. And these are still the New York Knicks.
But what’s most important is 1) the core and the draft picks are there, and 2) Phil Jackson and that stupid offense and his stubborn, vindictive, arrogance are gone.
Also very important: who will take over next.
Having a core and all your picks is great. Not having Phil Jackson is great. But the direction of the franchise is still up in the air until we know who’s steering the ship.
David Griffin is available after parting ways with the Cavs. Sam Hinkie is available to run back The Process around KP and Frank.
But the number one target right now — which is as preposterously unexpected as it is encouraging — is Masai Ujiri.
It seems like a pipe dream. But so did getting rid of Phil just last week. I don’t know… maybe I’m just high off this news. But could it be possible that Dolan might finally be heeding good advice?
Odds are he hires internally because… well because that’s what James Dolan does.
But the fact that 1) Dolan reiterated today that he will stay out of the basketball operations side, 2) he actually wants to hire Ujiri, and 3) he hired Tim Leiweke, who hired Ujiri in Toronto, to run the search for Phil’s replacement, is all very very very very very encouraging. Also, that he fired Phil. That is encouraging too.
We’ll see what happens over the next few days. With Free Agency starting Saturday it’ll have to be a pretty quick turnaround, so I’m sure I’ll be back here talking about the new Team President within the next few days.
For now, let’s at least bask in the glory that is the end of the Phil Jackson era. Good fucking riddance you geriatric oaf.