The players, coaches and maybe even the Knicks fan base will have a clearer picture of team president Phil Jackson’s plan in the coming days.
The Knicks’ regular season ended with Tuesday’s loss in Indiana. They finished 32-50, and are 49-115 in two years under Jackson’s watch.
But the first thing everyone wants to know is who will coach the Knicks next season. Everyone, it seems, except interim coach Kurt Rambis
“Whatever is going to happen is going to happen,” Rambis said on Tuesday. “I’m not going to worry about it. I want to be the head coach here. I think we can continue to get better as a ballclub, continue to improve, but that’s a decision that’s out of my hands. There’s nothing I can worry about. I just tried to do the best job that I could and keep moving forward.”
The Knicks went 9-19 under Rambis, after going 23-31 with Derek Fisher on the bench. They missed the playoffs for the third straight year. Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau, Scott Brooks and David Blatt are unemployed coaches who have better career records than Rambis. But it’s unclear whether any of them will get an interview, particularly since the triangle offense is Jackson’s system of choice and none of them run it.
Jackson conducted exit interviews with the players Wednesday and will again Thursday, after which he may meet with reporters. Carmelo Anthony and Arron Afflalo were looking forward to those sit-downs.
Anthony wants clarity on the plan going forward, and Afflalo on what happened that he lost his starting job in March and never regained it. Afflalo, signed last summer to a two-year, $16-million contract, is expected to opt out and look for a starting job somewhere.
“That will be the first choice,” Afflalo said on Tuesday. “I still believe I’m one of the premier two-guards in this league and part of being an elite two-guard in this league is opportunity. You have to be in a certain environment where you can excel and show what you can do. And hopefully that contributes to winning. I still believe I’m that player.
“I’ll find the best opportunity for me whether it’s in New York or anywhere else.”
Afflalo, who was reunited with Anthony, his former Nuggets teammate, had high expectations for the season and it didn’t go as he hoped.
“From that standpoint it was a little disheartening,” Afflalo said. “But I’m very thankful. It was a great opportunity. The experience was everything I thought it would be outside of the winning part. That’s the part that I thought we would have more of this year if things were a little bit more in order.”
That’s where Jackson comes in. He was hired in 2014 to help the Knicks develop a winning culture. He took over a team that won 37 games in 2013-14 and missed the playoffs by one game. The Knicks haven’t reached that win total since.
Jackson has overhauled the roster a couple of times and likely will again this offseason. Anthony called the first year of the process “a disaster,” and wants to hear Jackson’s offseason plan to fix the Knicks.
“My conversation with them will be open and honest about what’s going on, about transparency, how we can make this situation better and what we’re going to do to make this situation better,” Anthony said on Tuesday. “At the end of the day nobody loves this feeling, nobody wants to lose. We work too hard as players to be in this situation right now.
“Even though we almost doubled our wins from last year, we made some strides in certain areas. But now we got to continue to build on that.”