Hey, maybe Phil Jackson doesn’t need front office experience to make good moves. Today the Knicks announced the firing of Mike Woodson and his entire staff. I don’t think I’ve seen a team that was actually trying to win games and contend play as poorly on defense as this year’s Knicks. And while I don’t know who was ultimately pushing for the acquisition of players like Bargnani for draft picks, or the heavy minutes and roles given to players like J.R. Smith, I can’t shake the feeling that Mike Woodson firmly believes the following:
1) consuming possessions on isolations is the key to a good offense
2) having a rotation of high-powered offensive players is the key to sustained overall success
But league history seems to suggest this isn’t a winning formula.
Where do the Knicks go from here? There are rumors that Steve Kerr is to be the next coach, but I think it’s more important right now to figure out what direction their roster is headed in. And of course, the biggest piece of that puzzle is Carmelo Anthony.
I’m not a fan of Anthony. I think he’s a very gifted offensive player who gets more credit than he deserves because of his playstyle (he has the same solo scorer/shotmaker appeal and requisite numbers that Kobe did, though he’s not nearly as complete of a player). He’s got superstar talent and dazzle, without superstar impact. He’s not a great overall defender, and that’s not likely to improve with age. His best team success came when he had a steady lead guard (Billups) taking the ball out of his hands, allowing him to get quality looks and finish possessions without monopolizing them. Mike Woodson gave him the Joe Johnson treatment and set him loose…and like those talented but always also-ran Hawks, the Knicks never went anywhere. This strategy worked best when Melo moved to the 4, allowing him to have a mini-Lebron offensive impact…but the Knicks have gone back away from that this season.
Frankly I don’t think you can win a championship if Carmelo is the best player on your team…and I don’t even see other superstar level players willfully coming to play with him in thinking that he’ll lead them to a title.
Melo turns 30 in a month. I think the Knicks’ best play is to either let him walk, or attempt a sign and trade. It would be a disaster to give a huge contract to a one-way star who’s going to be on the decline…a mistake similar to the one the Knicks made a few years ago in offering the mammoth deal to Amar’e as a consolation prize in 2010’s free agent sweepstakes. And while it may be painful for Knicks fans to contemplate a few more seasons of ineptitude as the franchise tries to refill the cupboard with young talent and draft picks – it’s better than the alternative, which is continuing to shell out big money for disappointing mediocrity, Isiah-Thomas style.