Al Iannazzone joined Newsday in January 2012 as the Knicks’ beat writer, after covering the NBA for 11
Phil Jackson has been hands-off since becoming the Knicks' president last month. That will change very soon.
The Knicks likely will play their last game of the season Wednesday night, and not too long after that, Mike Woodson's run as coach could end. That will be Jackson's call, along with the hiring of a new coach. Speculation is that Steve Kerr is a top candidate.
Disciples of Jackson are expected to join him with the Knicks as coaches, executives and even players. It's a safe bet that Jackson will try to bring in guys who are well versed in the triangle, his beliefs and how the Zen Master likes to do things. Former Laker Lamar Odom could be signed before the season ends.
Jackson's primary job is to fix a roster that to this point has accumulated only 34 wins, 20 fewer than last season.
Woodson isn't fully responsible for that, but the Knicks should have been better. Teams with far less talented rosters and with players not nearly the caliber of Carmelo Anthony have records above .500 and will be in the playoffs this season.
Keeping Anthony is a priority, but Jackson must decide whether Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire, J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, Andrea Bargnani, Iman Shumpert, Pablo Prigioni and Tim Hardaway Jr. are worth bringing back. Remember, Jackson said he's on "a talent hunt.''
Some, if not many, of the current Knicks will return because they hope to maintain some of the flexibility they have for the summer of 2015. But Felton, Smith and Bargnani don't seem to fit the Jackson mold. The problem: Who else wants them?
Bargnani didn't change the widely held opinion that he's not a winning player; the Knicks have done their most winning with him out of the lineup. At $11.5 million for next season, he will be hard to move.
Felton has had a disappointing season on both ends of the court, and off the court, too. He was arrested in February for possessing a firearm, and his future could hinge upon the result of his June 2 court appearance. The Knicks should have moved Felton to Toronto for Kyle Lowry when they had the chance.
Smith has come on of late. If he had been as productive offensively all season, the Knicks might not be in this position. But during the first several months of the season, he was more of a headache than a reliable player, which lessens his value.
Perhaps Jackson can get through to Smith and get him to focus on basketball. Among Jackson's strongest assets are his ability to relate to players and get them to put the team before themselves.
That's part of the imprint Jackson is expected to put on the Knicks -- that and making sure another season like this one doesn't happen.
Not keeping pace
Lately, the Pacers haven't looked like the team that was supposed to challenge the Heat for the Eastern Conference title. After sitting at 46-13 on March 2, Indiana lost 12 of 19. There reportedly was bickering in the locker room and then players asked for rest -- so coach Frank Vogel gave it to them. He sat the entire starting five Wednesday in Milwaukee.
Former Knick Chris Copeland had his best game of the season and scored the winning basket for Indiana that night.
It wasn't the cure-all for the Pacers, who lost by 12 to the Heat on Friday night. Vogel plans to continue to rest guys, hoping they regain their sharpness and edge for the playoffs.
It was fitting that Dirk Nowitzki moved into 10th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list and Steve Nash jumped to third in career assists on the same night. If they hadn't spent six years as teammates in Dallas, both probably wouldn't rank as high.
Fast breaksBMike D'Antoni, Tyrone Corbin and Rick Adelman could be coaching their last games with their teams. Mark Jackson has Golden State in the playoffs for the second straight year, but he too could be on shaky ground.
Joe Dumars' 14-year run as Pistons president appears to be nearing an end. He built a team that reached six straight conference finals and won the 2004 championship, but Detroit will miss the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Knicks, Madison Square Garden and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.