By John Schmeelk
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The Sherman helped us win World War II.
The Tiger and Panther helped the Germans dominate Europe.
The Soviet T-34 helped destroy the Wehrmacht in Russia.
The M1A1 is the state-of-the-art monster that helped the US sweep through Iraq in the first Gulf War.
Then you have the Knicks.
All great tanks.
If Phil Jackson deserves credit for anything, it’s accepting this current group of Knicks for what they are: an unmitigated disaster. Whether or not this was Jackson’s plan from the beginning (it wasn’t, based on the Jose Calderon trade) is immaterial. He understands New York’s best way forward is to completely bottom out and start from scratch.
It’s not different from what the Knicks did leading up to the summer of 2010. They traded away everyone and threw all their eggs into a basket named Amar’e Stoudemire. Five years later, it’s clear that was an unwise decision. Jackson’s work begins now. Up until the trade deadline in February, he will likely try to unload Calderon to clear another $7.5 million off the team’s salary cap this offseason. He also has trade exceptions and expiring contracts to try to gain future draft picks, whether in the first or second rounds.
Perhaps Jackson will be able to mine some useful young players to fill some of the roster spots that will be created once the Knicks cut Lou Amundson and Alex Kirk. Jackson has a specific way he wants the Knicks play and knows the type of players needed to fill his system. He will value some of the younger guys in the D-League and on the back of some NBA rosters differently than other decision-makers in the NBA. Perhaps he can find a diamond in the rough.
Langston Galloway has already been signed to a 10-day contract to fill the spot opened up by Samuel Dalembert. He is a bigger point guard that ran the triangle for the Knicks’ D-League affiliate in Westchester, where he averaged 16 points per game, almost six rebounds, but only a little more than two assists. Galloway shot 45 percent from the field and 36 percent from behind the arc. Defensively, he averaged more than 2.5 steals. Galloway seems like he might be able to fill the type of role Ron Harper did for the Bulls. Whether he is good enough to play with the big boys remains to be seen.
It’s players like Galloway that Jackson will try to fit into the triangle in the next couple of months so the Knicks play his style of basketball. That’s also the type of player that Knicks fans will be paying good money to see at Madison Square Garden for the next four months. It is only a matter of time before Carmelo Anthony shuts it down for the season and gets knee surgery (likely after the All-Star break) leaving the Knicks fans with an innumerable amount of Jason Smith mid-range jumpers and Cole Aldrich hook shots.
There’s only one thing left for the Knicks team to do: lose and lose some more.
With the talent on the roster, that’s exactly what they are going to do.
The next significant day for New York will be when the ping-pong balls bounce in the NBA draft lottery in May. The more they have the better to land a potential cornerstone like Jahlil Okafor. The next four months will be ugly, a penance for potentially landing a top-three pick in the lottery.
Donnie Walsh had a chance to build the Knicks from nothing in the summer of 2010 but never had the opportunity to draft in the top three and get a player like Okafor. Jackson has that luxury. Combined with Anthony and the players the Knicks can net with nearly $30 million of cap space, they can put a winning team on the floor quickly as long as Jackson doesn’t screw things up. His work to save the Knicks, for what seems like the millionth time in the last 10 years, starts now. For now, he has a fool-proof plan: lose as much as possible for a great draft pick.
This is not Team Titanic or Tritanic. The ship isn’t sinking. It is being scuttled. The Knicks are tanking, and tanking the old-fashioned way: with gross incompetence. A superior tank to the Sixers’ intentional tank.
Maybe that karma will rub off on the Knicks come lottery night.
You can follow me on Twitter @for everything Knicks, Giants and the world of sports.
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