Who knows if this is just another hypothetical rumor made up by a credentialed media head, but if it isn’t, New York Knicks fans ought to be thrilled at the prospect of having a player of Russell Westbrook‘s caliber potentially joining them when he becomes a free agent during the 2017 offseason.
According to the trustworthy Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Yahoo Sports), the Knicks have a real shot at landing the Oklahoma City star point guard. This is because the Knicks have a pair of elite players in place and potentially be on the precipice of being a true contender by the time Westbrook can leave OKC.
The Knicks have a real chance to sell Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in 2017—New York and (forward Kristaps) Porzingis have his attention, yes—and (team president Phil) Jackson ought to start constructing an elite coaching staff to begin that process with Westbrook and with free agents beyond him.
What that tiny paragraph doesn’t tell you is the Knicks might be in trouble before that point because of president Phil Jackson‘s reluctance to hire anyone that doesn’t share the same basketball philosophies as him.
Everyone can forget about Tom Thibodeau’s candidacy, because Jackson would never cede control – never mind to someone who sees basketball so diametrically different than him. Anyway, Jackson has never hid his disdain for the Jeff Van Gundy coaching tree; in truth, most everyone else’s coaching trees.
In a lot of ways, Jackson exists in a parallel universe to the NBA. He hires coaches out of his world, personnel scouts out of his world. The idea of Rambis, Shaw or Cleamons as long-term Fisher replacements is embarrassing. Jackson isn’t using the Knicks’ vast resources to lure the best player personnel staffs and coaches to the Knicks, just likeminded people, just his guys. Nevertheless, he probably never promised owner James Dolan a different vision. Every executive has the right to execute his vision, but this is far too narrow, too exclusive.
This is a real issue in New York. While former coach Derek Fisher was definitely over his head with coaching the Knicks, he showed signs of improving while incorporating other offensive sets/plays to the triangle offense. But don’t get it twisted, Fisher was still trying to run some semblance (Kobe Bryant would disagree) of the triangle offense with the Knicks.
So in an odd way, the Knicks firing Fisher might actually make them worse if Jackson is serious about keeping puppet Kurt Rambis on the job. While Fisher struggled with the Knicks, a huge chunk of the blame should be put on Jackson for bringing in a slew of new players that shared the same talent level. Outside of the San Antonio Spurs, how many teams are successful playing 11-12 players every night?
After Carmelo Anthony and Aaron Afflalo, no other Knicks player averaged 30 minutes a game. How do you establish continuity and roles when one game a player is asked to play 30 minutes and score and the next game he gets off the pine for 15 minutes?
So, Knicks fans, before you order that Russell Westbrook jersey, lets see how Jackson builds his coaching staff and roster moving forward.