The King is Dead, Long Live the King

What are the long-lasting effects of the Phil Jackson era?

Photo: Barton Silverman/The New York Times

Early on this June morning New York Knicks fans received a glimmer of hope from a tweet sent around dusk by The Vertical’s Adrian “WOJ” Wojnarowski.

Undoubtedly, the Woj Bomb reporting the end of Phil Jackson’s tenure in New York was the greatest news Knicks fans could have hoped for in the coming months. As the morning passed the New York Knickerbockers organization issued a formal statement along with one by Phil Jackson. Knicks fans rejoiced, former players threw shade, and even Jackson expressed well wishes with a few kind of words. It’s easy to be chummy when you’re severance package is $12 million per year.

However, that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Jackson’s impact on the Knicks in future seasons.

Melo and the Gilded Cage

To all, it appeared that Carmelo Anthony was at his darkest hour. Trade talk going into the post-season was ugly, the recent buyout rumors sickened ‘Melo fans, and it looked like Jackson was prepared to throw out anyone who wasn’t his best friend or a three-sided polygon.

Up until the early morning of June 28th, ‘Melo was on the ropes and ready to throw in the towel. The irony that Jackson’s most expensive deal would be his most costly is poetic justice. In an instant, the likelihood that ‘Melo would finish the remainder of his contract in orange and blue skyrocketed (although it’s not assured). With two seasons left on a contract totaling over $120 million, it’s doubtful he’ll make a final appearance with the Knicks current roster. For better or for worse, Anthony is in New York, and few people would have it any other way.

via The Knicks Wall/SoundCloud

Kristaps Porzingis: The Thin Ticket

Kristaps Porzingis was tested in more ways than one this past season. On-court and off-court adversity plagued him throughout the year, but he approached each challenge with a solution; even more, and most importantly, he did things his own way.

At times, Porzingis was frozen out of the offense due to a ball dominant Derrick Rose, but KP still managed to improve his field-goal percentage, and three-point percentage on more shots taken inside and behind the arc, thus, giving him a higher points per game average (via Basketball-Reference). Jackson was the author of an innumerable amount of questionable decisions that may hinder the Knicks in coming years, but Porzingis has shown that he is without a doubt a bright spot. Porzingis is on the books until 2019 when he can either enter restricted free agency or sign a qualifying offer (per Sportrac).

Hopefully, he’ll flourish in the coming years and decide that with a competent front office he’ll stick it out as the franchise’s centerpiece.

Photo: Rhenus Sport

Frank Ntilikina: The Big Question Mark

In hindsight, the Knicks drafting Frank Ntilikina was a no-brainer. He’s a big guard that is projected to be able to guard three positions. The 18-year-old French adolescent is a blank canvas that could have molded into a model Triangle offense guard. With Jackson leaving, and the subsequent nixing of the Triangle from New York Knicks playbook, management has a new problem: What will become of Ntilikina?

His offensive game isn’t much to rave about at this point and he’s not much of a ball-handler either. So, open sets were he runs the offense may expose him as raw talent with no direction. From Day 1, he’s been considered a project player, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a vision left with Jackson’s exit. At the very least, a defensive-focused point guard will be refreshing for Knicks fans everywhere. Time will tell if Jackson engineered another great pick in the draft, or if he simply left a lemon as a parting gift.

Joakim Noah: The Big Blunder

Noah’s $72 million, four-year contract makes him the second largest contract on the books, and Phil Jackson has 12 million reasons why he’s third (via Sportsrac). The big man was disappointing, to be polite, in his first season, and it’s safe to say he’ll get no better. Unless the Knicks somehow manage to package his bad contract with another, his cap hit will be a cross they’ll bare until it expires in 2020. There’s not much to say here besides Jackson overestimated Noah’s usefulness so badly that the implications will be felt until the end of Guillermo “Willy” Hernangómez’s first NBA stint.

Hernangómez’s selection to the All-rookie first team is a stupendous accomplishment that deserves praise. The 23-year-old center has room for improvement, but his impressive rookie campaign can ease the mind of anyone wondering who would man the paint during Noah’s crippling four year stretch.

The drama of the New York Knicks past three seasons under the rule of mad king Phil Jackson is hard to do justice in a brief summary, but the players and contracts mentioned above are the most consequential for the team and encapsulate Jackson’s long-term effects as the President of Basketball Operations.

Already, a replacement is being wooed, but Jackson’s legacy as a front office executive, some of it good, plenty of it bad, will be another part of Knicks history endured through naive optimism and sprinkled with “Clyde-isms.”

Ty Jordan, staff writer

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