I thought this article in the NY Times was the best article I've read about Phil. Telling the players "We're on the move", trying to get draft picks in deals rather than giving them away and he's not going to blindly give every Tom, Dick and Harry like Starbury a max contract like all the other GM's we've had around here.
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Knicks Draft Cleanthony Early of Wichita State
By SCOTT CACCIOLAJUNE 26, 2014
Cleanthony Early, left, averaged 16.3 points and 6 rebounds a game as a senior. Credit Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Draft night has not always been kind to the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]. Not that anyone needs reminding, but there have been missteps over the years, including the selections of projects. Renaldo Balkman, anyone?
Mostly, though, the team’s draft problems have involved the oodles of picks the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] were never able to use in the first place because they had traded them away.
The Knicks were able to work their way back into Thursday’s draft because of a trade Wednesday with the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] that netted the Knicks a pair of second-round picks, the 34th and 51st over all. The Knicks’ original 2014 picks were long gone by then, a result of aging deals involving Carmelo Anthony and Marcus Camby.
In other words, Thursday seemed to be the start of something different. Under Phil Jackson, the team’s president, the Knicks finally appeared committed to collecting assets rather than giving them away, determined to build for the future rather than mortgage it. At least that was the hope among those invested in the team’s fortunes.
Samuel Dalembert, right, with Dallas last season, is a defense-minded center the Knicks acquired in a trade Wednesday. Credit Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
“We want to send a message to all of our players that we’re on the move,” Jackson said at the team’s training center.
With the 34th pick, the Knicks selected Cleanthony Early, a 6-foot-7 forward from Wichita State. Early, a high-energy scorer, averaged 16.3 points and 6 rebounds a game as a senior. In a narrow loss to Kentucky in the N.C.A.A. tournament, he scored 31 points while shooting 12 of 17 from the field.
At No. 51, the Knicks took Thanasis Antetokounmpo, a 6-foot-6 forward and the older brother of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo. Thanasis spent last season with the Delaware 87ers of the Development League. The Knicks also acquired the 57th pick from the Indiana Pacers and selected Louis Labeyrie, a center from France.
As with anything involving the Knicks these days, the night’s festivities were viewed through the prism of Anthony’s impending free agency, and Jackson fielded several questions about him. Yes, Jackson wants Anthony to re-sign with the team. No, Jackson does not expect to meet with him again before he makes his choice. Yes, Jackson still wants him to take less money.
“He’s the one who opened that up — that it wasn’t about the money,” Jackson said. “So I challenged him about that because I wanted our fans to see that he’s a team player, that he was going to do what was best for this team to get ahead farther and faster.”
The Knicks, according to the collective bargaining agreement, can offer Anthony the most lucrative contract: $129 million over five years. The most that other teams can offer is $96 million over four years. But it was more apparent than ever that Jackson would be reluctant to break the bank for Anthony. Given the league’s salary-cap restrictions, Jackson said, maximum contracts make it difficult to build a championship contender.
“It puts limitations on a team,” he said, adding, “We have every confidence that Carmelo’s good for what his word is, that he wants to be in New York, that he likes to play in New York and wants to be a part of a playoff team that’s competitive for a championship.”
How soon that becomes more than a remote fantasy is unclear, although Jackson sounded optimistic that the team had taken a first step thanks to its trade with the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]. In exchange for Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton, the Knicks acquired Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington and the two picks.
Jackson said he expected that Calderon, a veteran point guard, would be an excellent fit in the triangle offense. Jackson also praised Dalembert as a defense-minded center capable of replacing Chandler at that end of the floor. Jackson said he was motivated to make the deal based on what he had seen over the final weeks of the regular season.
“We had to change some of the chemistry on this team,” he said. “I saw guys that really looked at each other like, ‘You didn’t back me up; you weren’t here when I needed help.’ There just wasn’t the right combination or feel where everybody was in sync all the time.”
Last season was a disaster for the Knicks, who tumbled out of playoff contention. Chandler was sometimes critical of Mike Woodson, who was then the team’s coach, and Felton labored with injuries and off-the-court issues. On Monday, Felton agreed to plead guilty to a felony gun possession charge as a way of avoiding jail time.
Jackson met with Anthony in Los Angeles this month along with Derek Fisher, the team’s new coach, and General Manager Steve Mills. Jackson said he informed Anthony of the deal that was in the works with Dallas, but he was careful to say that he did not seek Anthony’s approval.
“I wouldn’t use the word ‘consulted,’ ” Jackson said, adding, “He saw the value in it and was appreciative of it.”
More than 50 prospects worked out for the Knicks ahead of the draft. The team, Jackson said, had done its homework. He indicated that there could be additional moves, although he reiterated that it would be hard for the Knicks to be major players on the free-agent market.
“We have many handicaps, obviously, with our salary cap being what it is,” Jackson said. “But there’s always a possibility. We’re not going to rule ourselves out of any gambit that gives us a chance to do something really special.”