In this part three of LWOPB’s review of the New York Knicks 2016-17 Season Review, the front office receives grades.
Usually, the talk is about the players on a team. Fans will blame coaches when things go wrong. But with this franchise, there is always talk about the owner and team president. Too often, this franchise creates its own distractions off the court.
In prior years, James Dolan has stepped in and intervened with the team’s operations, like when he intervened and pushed through the trade for Carmelo Anthony.
However, now he is taken to the other extreme. In an interview earlier this year on “The Michael Kay” show, he was asked about the team’s future and state. In response, Dolan said to ask Phil. He is now keeping his hands out of it. As an owner, he should know when to intervene when things are going bad and know when to sit back and let a good president do his work.
But Dolan was making headlines for the wrong reasons. Not once, but twice he was caught in a back-and-forth with the fans, including once with former Knick Charles Oakley. The owner should not be fighting with paying fans.
Phil Jackson is the key front office person for the Knicks. He was brought in three years ago to turn the perception of this franchise around. He was entrusted with the task of bringing in star players to this team.
Last offseason, Jackson made many moves that would make the Knicks contenders for a playoff spot. He traded for Derrick Rose, who was in the final year of his contract. This move made sense because it is a low-risk, high-reward. You would expect Rose to play motivated because he was playing for a new contract, either for New York or for some other team. He signed Joakim Noah to sure up their defense and to give toughness down low, even though he overpaid for a player that oft-injured and on the decline. He also brought in Courtney Lee, to round out the starting five. On paper, the Knicks looked like a third or fourth see in the weak Eastern Conference.
However games are not won on paper. The Knicks missed the playoffs and it was a miserable season. But Jackson does get some points for trying. He went out and assembled good talent that should’ve competed night-in and night-out.
Jackson loses points for being a distraction off the court. For a guy that does not talk too much, he did not choose his words wisely and got himself into trouble all year long. From angering LeBron James to devaluing his own star Anthony, he constantly tweeted cryptic messages. He could not stay away from Twitter and let things play out. And at the trade deadline, he did not trade away Rose and any other players that could’ve brought back younger players and draft picks. Staying idle did not help this team’s future, and he has a long task ahead of him. He was brought in the make things better, and if anything, he has made things worse.
Jeff Hornacek was under tough circumstances from the day he was hired. He is not a triangle coach, yet agreed to sign with the Knicks. Jackson came in during practices and tried to teach the players the triangle. During the season, his star players tuned him out.
For what he had to deal with, I believe Hornacek conducted himself with class. He answered all the questions after each loss and was not afraid to call out his starters. Even though the starters might have quit on him, his bench players played harder for him, especially on defense.
He needs to be given a chance to run his offense. Jackson needs to step out of his way and let Hornacek worry about the playbook. He gets a higher grade cause of the way he dealt with the dysfunction surrounding him.
This concludes the season review. The Knicks had a very disappointing season. It started last offseason with a promise of making the playoffs because of the talent that was amassed. However, they missed the playoffs again, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.