Knicks’ drama might scare off potential free agents
The Knicks’ wild week might have sent up red flags to potential free agents about the direction of the franchise. Until something changes drastically, quality players might be deterred from considering the Knicks.
We’re talking about what happened with former Knick and fan favorite Charles Oakley, who was banned from Madison Square Garden on Friday after his physical altercation with security officers during the first quarter of Wednesday night’s Knicks game.
Potential free agents have taken notice of team president Phil Jackson’s treatment of Carmelo Anthony as he tries to trade the Knicks’ best player.
The bottom line is this: The Knicks are losing on the court, off the court and in the court of public opinion — and all of it could impact their ability to get quality free agents.
“I think that should always be in the back of people’s minds,” Anthony said.
Even before all this, the top free agents weren’t coming: Kevin Durant wouldn’t meet with the Knicks last summer, LaMarcus Aldridge canceled his meeting with them the year before and LeBron James never really has considered them when he’s been a free agent.
But the Knicks still should be concerned about the lasting effect this season could have on their long-term future. It doesn’t sound as if this management team is going anywhere.
Knicks owner James Dolan said Friday on ESPN Radio that he will honor Jackson’s five-year deal, so he’s not going anywhere unless he decides to opt out after this season. Dolan said he doesn’t anticipate Jackson opting out.
After the Oakley incident, TNT analyst and former Knicks villain Reggie Miller tweeted in support of Oakley and told Newsday’s Neil Best that “it’s unfortunate because that will be the last image for most New Yorkers. Instead of him diving on the floor for loose balls or diving in the stands and sacrificing his body, he’s getting body-slammed by eight off-duty police officers in a place that he called home for 10 years.’’
Other prominent players also offered support for Oakley, including James, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade.
Those three, incidentally, are Anthony’s best friends in the NBA and three of the most influential players. They see how the Anthony-Jackson relationship has deteriorated. Unnecessary comments and tweets by Jackson and critical columns about Anthony from writers with long relationships with Jackson indicate he’s trying to push out Anthony, who has a no-trade clause in his contract
You can forget about Anthony, James, Paul and Wade — they call themselves “The Brotherhood” — joining forces in New York in the near future. It could happen in Miami, Los Angeles or Cleveland before they all hang up their Jordan Brand sneakers.
During Friday’s interview on ESPN Radio, Michael Kay asked Dolan if he’s concerned that Jackson’s handling of Anthony will hurt the chances of signing free agents. Dolan said he’s staying out of it and letting Jackson run the basketball department. “That is totally within Phil’s control,” Dolan said. “He has to address that. He has to be concerned about that. I am not going to weigh in on those things that I said I wouldn’t weigh in on.”
It doesn’t mean the Knicks won’t get players, but they might not get franchise-changing ones. That said, Jackson and general manager Steve Mills should spend more time finding trades for Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings and Kyle O’Quinn than Anthony, who can veto any deal.
With Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez on the team, and Joakim Noah in the first year of a four-year, $72-million contract — he’s not going anywhere with that deal — O’Quinn is expendable.
Rose and Jennings will be free agents in July, so the Knicks should try to get something instead of letting them walk to create additional cap space. More money doesn’t mean the Knicks will be able to sign any difference-makers, and this season hasn’t helped their chances.
Magic wants to call shots
Lakers legend Magic Johnson is back with the team as an adviser but he told USA Today this week that he wants to eventually “call the shots.”
Many speculated this would be Phil Jackson’s job at some point because of his relationship with the Lakers and part-owner Jeannie Buss. But Jackson and Buss split up last year, as Jackson announced on Twitter.
Johnson currently is an adviser to Buss, but he believes his role will be determined by the end of the season.
“Working to call the shots, because it only works that way,’’ Johnson said. “Right now I’m advising. I get that. . . . I may only be in this role for a short term. I may be here for a long time. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
The rebuilding Lakers already have made some changes. They inserted rookie Brandon Ingram and Tarik Black into the starting lineup for veterans Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov because the Lakers are prioritizing developing younger players for the remainder of the season.
Since they have this youth movement going, the Lakers could try to move some veterans including Deng, Nick Young and former Knick Jose Calderon — who has been linked to the Cavaliers because of their need for an experienced point guard — by the trade deadline.
Beware Feb. 8. It’s a bad day in New York and for the Knicks.
Derek Fisher was fired on Feb. 8 last year, and the Oakley incident happened on Feb. 8 this year.
The Fisher dismissal came with the Knicks 23-31. They were 22-31 heading into that day this year and dropped to 22-32 after the loss to the Clippers. The Knicks aren’t progressing. They’re regressing despite all the changes they made in the offseason.
Give and go
The Knicks, Cavaliers, Clippers and Celtics should be busy and active leading up to the Feb. 23 trade deadline as well as The Nets, 76ers, Magic, Nuggets, Bulls, Timberwolves, Mavericks and Pelicans. . . . Onetime Knick Derrick Williams had nothing but praise for Heat president Pat Riley for granting his wish to be released. “I didn’t leave New York to sit on the bench in Miami,” Williams said after signing a 10-day deal with the champion Cavaliers . . . 76ers guard T.J. McConnell, who hit a buzzer-beater to down the Knicks last month, nailed his second game-winning shot of the season Wednesday against Orlando. Joel Embiid tweeted, “Is TJ McConnell the clutchest player in NBA history? I guess so #TrustTheProcess.” . . . The win was the 76ers’ 19th of the season. They already surpassed their victories from the last two seasons (10 and 18) and matched their total from 2013-14.
Warriors’ Green gets unique triple-double
Draymond Green’s triple-double on Friday night was like no other in NBA history. Green scored only four points but finished with 12 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals as the Golden State Warriors beat Memphis, 122-107.
With his unique all-around performance on both ends of the floor, Green became the first player in league history to have a triple-double with fewer than 10 points. “That’s as dominant of a performance as I’ve ever seen from somebody who scored four points,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.