GREENBURGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)The Knicks may have acquired Derrick Rose in a trade, but he also was a major factor in the team’s free agency plan.

Knicks president Phil Jackson said the Rose trade helped trigger the signings of Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings, who were all formally introduced Friday.

“The initial beginning of this started with the trade for Derrick Rose, and it kind of accentuated how we were going to approach this free agent year and the direction that we wanted to head towards — a team with a little more experience, a little more competitive power and a team that we hope will be able to mesh their talents together and provide us an opportunity to challenge in this Eastern Conference,” Jackson said.

Jackson also said he conferred with Carmelo Anthony about whether the organization was “moving quickly enough for you,” knowing the perennial All-Star’s hunger to contend for a title and his age, 32.

“We decided to activate ourselves a little bit quicker,” Jackson said.

General manager Steve Mills also said it was important for power forward Kristaps Porzingis’ development to surround him with good players and get him accustomed to a culture of winning.

Jackson shied away from making any predictions about where the new-look Knicks might finish in the standings next season, saying just how good the team is won’t be evident until the players are all on the floor together.

New coach Jeff Hornacek said the front office “perfectly” filled the holes that were left on the roster.

“I think these guys have found team guys, guys that want to win, want to go out there and lay it out there,” he said.

MORE: Schmeelk: Knicks’ Decision To Retain Melo And 2016 Moves Will Be Tested Next Season

In eight seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Noah, 31, was a two-time All-Star and was voted the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year after the 2013-14 season. However, the center is coming off an injury-riddled season in which he suffered two significant shoulder injuries that limited him to 29 games, including only two starts. Noah, who signed a four-year, $72 million deal, averaged just 4.3 points and 8.8 rebounds.

“Joakim Noah is somebody who’s been on my list for quite a long time as far as whether he’s available, I’d like to have this guy as a leader, with the defensive attitude that he carries and the teamwork that he likes to promote,” Jackson said. “And I think most players in the NBA recognize this and a lot of coaches do also. And bringing him in as initially our first choice in the free agent market, I think kind of solidified what we wanted to get accomplished. We have offensive players. We need players who want to do the rest of the work that’s a lot of times behind the scenes or maybe not as noticed.”

The son of former French tennis player Yannick Noah and former Miss Sweden Cecilia Rodhe, Noah was born in New York City and played at the United Nations International School in Manhattan and Poly Prep in Brooklyn.

“New York is very special to me,” Noah told MSG Network. “This is where I grew up. And I’ve been a Knicks fan my whole life, so this jersey means everything to me. And I’m ready to be an animal for this city.”

Lee, who just finished his eighth NBA season, is joining his seventh team. He averaged 9.6 points last season for Memphis and Charlotte, matching his career average. His four-year deal is reportedly worth $50 million.

Lee, 30, said Noah helped recruit him.

“He reached out, and he’s so passionate on the phone. He’s hungry. He’s eager,” Lee told MSG. “He was just so animated, and he was just telling me we could do something special. If we win in this city, it would be like playing for no other city ever. He stayed on me, and we got it done.”

Coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon in January 2015, Jennings was limited to 48 games last season with Detroit and then Orlando after he was traded at midseason. He has averaged 15.5 points and 5.9 assists in 460 games. The 26-year-old point guard signed a one-year, $5 million contract.

Jennings has been vocal that he has always wanted to play for the Knicks, who passed on him in the 2009 draft.

“It’s the mecca of basketball, New York,” Jennings said. “How can you not be excited to play in the Garden every night? It’s always sold out. The energy’s crazy. I just can’t wait.”


Leave a Reply