The New (old) York Knicks?

Derrick Rose Knicks

It’s been an interesting off-season for the New York Knicks. After missing the playoffs for a third consecutive year and having lost 115 games over the past two NBA campaigns, something had to change – and Phil Jackson obliged. How well he has done that and what that means for the future of the franchise remains to be seen, but he has clearly decided that he wants the Knicks to feature in the post-season sooner rather than later.

It’s an interesting switch in strategy, because it felt like the Knicks were largely biding their time during the Carmelo Anthony era with one eye on the future and building around rookie superstar Kristaps Porzingis. PorzinGOD has been more than just a cult hero for the New York franchise. He showed promise and potential in his first NBA season and figures to be a cornerstone for this franchise now and into the future. So, to now bring in a host of aging stars and veteran NBA players seemed a juxtaposition. It appeared that the Knicks would try to make the best of a bad situation, get the most out of Melo while developing Pingaz with the focus of getting back to playing competitive basketball in the next three to five years.

Not according to Phil.

Porzingis & Melo

Jackson made a bevvy of moves to bring in players who are “well seasoned” for want of a better word, to try and bring some instant competitiveness to his squad and to work with the existing pieces to get back to the playoffs. The Derek Fisher era was short lived as the Knicks brought in (Jeff Hornacek) to guide the franchise into the foreseeable future, ex-Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah were added to the roster along with Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee and Jackson had made his intentions clear. There would be no treading water, the Knicks were going to try and win games now.

Carmelo Anthony spent the off-season in Rio at the Olympics, reminding people that he is still an incredible talent who has fallen off the radar as the Knicks have fallen down the standings and plenty expect to see an even better version of Porzingis in his sophomore season. So with that star duo in place, these veteran pieces are meant to complement in order to compete. It’s clear the Zen Master thinks this will work and his belief has even rubbed off on Derrick Rose who must feel rejuvenated with a change in scenery (less pressure, less scrutiny and overall just a fresh start) judging by his statements labeling the New York Knicks as a “superteam” and suggesting they feel they can win every game this season.

Now – even for the diehard Knicks fans (and there are plenty of you out there!) this is a pipe dream. No-one goes undefeated – we know this – but the feeling around the franchise has to be one of hope. Instead of wallowing away in the depths of the Atlantic Division, Phil Jackson is at least trying to put a competitive team out on the floor and to get the players to buy in and believe that anything is possible. Brownie points don’t add much to the win tally, but it’s better – as a fan – to see the front office actively trying to put numbers in the W column for you. While a pre-ACL Rose would inspire a LOT more confidence and a 2011 Joakim Noah might be reason to celebrate, they just don’t have the same allure – yet (it is easy to forget that Rose is still ONLY 27 years old). From all reports, both players have really impressed in off-season workouts and there is no denying that in full flight, both are very capable NBA stars, the Knicks are just hoping that at least Rose can get back somewhere near his MVP best.

Joakim Noah

Non Knicks fans and NBA cynics are mocking the New York franchise right now. A cocky Derrick Rose isn’t helping things either, but most people are already writing off the Knicks as a “has been team”. The thing is, they might be more balanced and have more overall talent now than at any time in the past three or four seasons. Rose and Noah have hogged the headlines, but Jennings and Lee are two solid signings as well. Jennings hasn’t been relevant (other than on twitter) since coming back from an Achillies injury – but he could very well play an important role in the Big Apple this season as a reserve guard anchoring a second unit. Courtney Lee is actual a very astute signing, adding perimeter scoring to balance the lack of it supplied by Rose from the backcourt.

All of a sudden, if you start to look at the Knicks team without disdain and bias, you can see why many fans, the front office and Derrick Rose are excited. Rose, Lee, Melo, Porzingis and Noah are your starting unit, while Jennings, Lance Thomas, Sasha Vujacic and others try to play a support role from the bench. It’s not a Cleveland, Boston or Toronto kind of lineup, but it could certainly be better than a 32-50 lineup. And anything better than last year has to be considered a win.

Out with the old and in with the new. Well, the new old.

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