IN order to attract free agents, the New York Knicks have to win first.
Team president Phil Jackson believes the Knicks’ rebuilding process is on track, despite missing out on the top names in the free agent market the proud franchise targeted in the NBA offseason.
According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan, and Greg Monroe were among the marquee names the Knicks had hoped to sign.
Spurned by these ‘long shots,’ the Knicks focused on acquiring second-tier players to surround star player Carmelo Anthony to turn New York into a viable destination for free agents once more.
After a 17-win season, the Knicks have nowhere to go but up and have signed the likes of Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams, and Kyle O'Quinn to upgrade their roster under second-year coach Derek Fisher.
“We need to win, be a competitive team,” Jackson told MacMahon. “I think we showed agents and players around the league a serious nature of what we're trying to accomplish. People who know basketball will recognize that, and we'll have people who want to come here.”
Despite this summer’s setbacks, the Zen Master said he remains optimistic about the direction of the organization.
“We made a defensive attempt in free agency to really kind of solidify our team and give ourselves a basis from which we can work from. I think everything went according to how we thought it would go. There were some long shots out there that we took, but the reality was, we wanted what we got.”
Last season, the Knicks, led by the offensive-minded Anthony, were one of the worst teams in the league when it came to defense, finishing 21st in points allowed and 28th in defensive efficiency.
“We're a team sport. When we're putting a team together, that's our first priority. How do we make it a team that works together? That's the important aspect of it. ... Obviously Carmelo is the guy that's the premier player. We understand that, but it's a team game. It has to fit together.”
With no Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant to rely on this time around, the legendary coach certainly has his work cut out for him in the Big Apple.