Knicks 2016-17 season wrap
WHAT WENT WRONG
1. After waking up 16-13 on Christmas morning, the Knicks went 15-38 and didn’t win consecutive games after Dec. 22.
2. The Knicks spent too much time and wasted too much energy being unhappy with the offense and not enough time and effort on stopping the other team. Their defense was a major weakness. Jeff Hornacek should have stressed it more and demanded more from them.
3. The players don’t like the triangle offense, so they never bought in. The Knicks should have committed to one thing. The fact that they changed how they were going to play a few times during the season didn’t help and led to confusion.
4. The Knicks never meshed or developed any chemistry. Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose both needed the ball, and too often Kristaps Porzingis was a spectator. There was a lot of standing around overall.
5. Joakim Noah was a $72 million bust. He wasn’t a defensive anchor or inspirational leader. He played in 46 games, underwent knee surgery in February, was suspended for 20 games in March for violating the anti-drug policy and will likely have offseason shoulder surgery.
6. Phil Jackson became a distraction and disrupted the team with his negative quotes about Anthony and tweets directed at him before trying to trade him in February. It took its toll on Anthony and the Knicks and they never recovered. It also was part of an environment that led to Porzingis skipping his exit meeting with Jackson and other team officials.
* Jackson admitted there was “discord” and “rebelliousness” in the locker room. Hornacek’s relationship with the players was hurt by the fact that he gave into Jackson and ran the triangle instead of playing a more modern offense.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Not much, but....
1. It wasn’t a bad year to be a bad team. The Knicks have their first-round draft pick and finished tied for the NBA’s sixth-worst record. The last time they were in the Lottery they drafted Porzingis. Maybe they can find a future franchise point guard to throw him the ball.
2. Noah’s injuries and suspension gave rookie center Willy Hernangomez a chance to shine. He showed maturity and an array of offensive moves. The Knicks expected Hernangomez to grow in the D-League. But he was never sent down. He impressed from the beginning.
3. Developing players was an emphasis, and should continue to be. Rookies Hernangomez, Ron Baker, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Maurice Ndour all improved from the start of the season after putting in extra work with assistant coaches Josh Longstaff and Dave Bliss.
REASONS TO BE OPTIMISTIC
1. The Knicks have a lottery pick in a point-guard heavy draft toward the top. They’ve needed a franchise-caliber point guard for years.
2. In Porzingis and Hernagomez, the Knicks could have the makings of a formidable future frontcourt. That’s if Porzingis hasn’t become so disenchanted with the franchise that he could look to leave when his rookie deal is up.
3. A player-development program appears to be in place. The Knicks will have a lottery pick and two second-rounders that they can work on this summer.
4. The Knicks are all triangle all the time. That’s not necessarily good. But instead of flip-flopping like these past two seasons, the Knicks need commit to something, stick with it, and hope everyone buys in. They need continuity. But if they don’t defend it won’t matter.
CHANGES ON THE HORIZON
1. There should be plenty. It’s been the way since Jackson became president. He’s brought in 33 players since the start of the 2014-15 season.
2. The Knicks could have seven free agents, and some veterans they will try to move, with Anthony being first and foremost on the list.
3. If the Knicks find a deal amenable to Anthony – who has a no-trade clause – they likely will pull the trigger even if they don’t get equal value. Jackson made it clear he wants to move on from Anthony.
4. After his season ended with a fourth knee surgery, Rose could be one-and-done with the Knicks. But Jackson left the door slightly open for the free-agent guard to return. He might be a fallback option on a short-term deal, but not necessarily as lead guard.
5 Jackson said Rose is a “scoring guard” and that “organizing and leading is not his strength. So the Knicks will look for a veteran point guard, and one who is okay with having the ball taken out of his hands in the triangle. When Jackson coached, he never had the prototypical point guard who set-up his teammates and had high assists.