Knicks rumors about Phil Jackson’s opinion on point guards isn’t winning him fans. Many New York Knicks rumors over the past few years have revolved around the team acquiring a star point guard. Rumors have ranged from signing Rajon Rondo as a free agent, to trading for Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks. A report from ESPN has Knicks president Phil Jackson throwing some cold water on the whole situation with comments he made at Staples Center.
“Chasing a point guard, where it becomes just an obsession, isn’t necessary. It’s not necessary. We can play the game without that.”
So does this mean that the days of New York Knicks rumors linking the team to top point guards have come to an end? During the upcoming NBA offseason, All-Star point guards Mike Conley and Rajon Rondo are set to become free agents. There is going to be a lot of interest in signing them from teams around the league. The Hawks are also likely to trade Jeff Teague, as his backup is ready to take over as the starting point guard in Atlanta. It would be a prime opportunity for Jackson if he is willing to spend money on a point guard.
One of reasons Jackson states that he doesn’t need a star point guard is based on history. Finding success with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls and then Kobe Bryant and the LA Lakers, neither team had a significant player at point guard. Instead, he worked with role players who could take big shots if necessary.
“We went to a two-guard format, and I think we were successful at it. I think we caught a lot of people in the league by surprise because of the way we played. So it works, and we know it works.”
Most of the point guard minutes for the New York Knicks have been played by Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant this season. Calderon has averaged 7.6 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game as the starter. Grant has averaged 4.8 points, 2.4 assists, and 1.8 rebounds. The duo hasn’t helped the Knicks stay competitive against opponents with elite point guards, most notably showing up in the current NBA standings. It is those struggles that continue to create more Knicks rumors about how the team could improve.
Through the games on Sunday, March 13, the Knicks are just 27-40. That has the team as the third-worst in the Eastern Conference, which is 7-and-a-half games out of the playoffs. The team has also lost seven of its last 10 games and continues to slide further in the standings. As the Knicks have no first-round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the team cannot even get accused of tanking games.
The NBA salary cap is expected to climb as high as $89 million for the 2016-17 campaign, possibly giving the New York Knicks and Phil Jackson a lot of cap room this offseason. Currently, the Knicks have $64 million in contracts on the books, but the team could easily see that number drop. Arron Afflalo has a player option for $8 million and Derrick Williams has a player option for about $4.6 million. That is an additional $12.6 million that Jackson could have to spend on free agency or through trade acquisitions.
It’s clear that Jackson still has a lot of work to do on this roster and that he will have to be very active in the NBA offseason. There will be a lot of players available on the market, so it all comes down to making the right moves in free agency and through trades. Fans at Madison Square Garden would enjoy basketball more if there were fewer New York Knicks rumors and more games winding up in the win column during the 2016-17 NBA season.
[Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for The New Yorker Festival]