The ESPN Forecast panel ranked the Knicks’ front office 30th in a league of 30 teams. The management team of Phil Jackson and Steve Mills came in at 29th; coach Derek Fisher was ranked 30th. Lastly, owner James Dolan came in at 30th.
Below, we’ll take a look at why those rankings make sense and why there is reason to hope that they will improve in the future.
President Phil Jackson; GM Steve Mills (29th): Jackson and Mills thought they’d put together a team that could compete for the seventh or eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Instead, they put together the worst team in franchise history.
That’s probably one of the few redeeming qualities about Jackson’s first year as Knicks president: he’s put the team in good position to rebuild.
Derek Fisher (30th): The Knicks have been set up to lose games since early January, but that doesn’t mean that Fisher is above criticism. The first-year coach struggled to find a consistent rotation, using 20 different starting lineups in the first half of the season.
His defensive schemes have also hurt the Knicks. Fisher wanted New York to focus on defending the paint and stopping opponents in transition. That’s come at the expense of defending the 3-point arc.
The Knicks have allowed opponents to shoot 38.7 percent from beyond the arc, which ranks 30th in the NBA.
The real test for Fisher, of course, will be next season. In theory, he’ll have a roster that can compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
James Dolan (30th): The Knicks owner alienated some of his own fan base by sending an email to a long-time fan, suggesting that he go root for the Brooklyn Nets. Between that and the miserable season, it hasn’t been a good year for Dolan.
Better days ahead? There’s reason to believe that the Jackson and the Knicks can turn things around. They will be armed with at least $25 million to spend and have a high first-round pick in June’s draft.
Furthermore, for the first time in recent Knicks history, it seems like the owner, president and coach are all on the same page.
Jackson has given Fisher the freedom to coach the team the way he sees fit; Dolan has thus far stuck to his promise to give Jackson autonomy when it comes to basketball decisions. It’s anyone’s guess how long this tranquility can last. Dolan has a history of meddling with his front-office people.
But the idea that all three men are on the same page, at this point, bodes well for the future.
Also, the fact that Dolan is a willing spender should help. For all of his warts, no one has ever accused Dolan of being cheap when it comes to paying for an asset that his front office deems worthy.
Question: Do you agree with the rankings? Do you see brighter days ahead for the Knicks?