Phil Jackson’s Progress Report: Finishing Games, Melo’s Impact, Fisher’s Character, and Trade Talk

Progress Report

Moments before the Knicks boarded a plane to New Orleans to start a three-game road trip, president Phil Jackson addressed the media.  Jackson covered several topics during the session and started with an honest assessment of the 4-18 start to the 2014-15 season.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” Jackson stated.  “We knew it was going to be a process, we talked about that before but the process has been set in place and I think guys understand what we are trying to do.  Hopefully they are getting to be more compliant, there’s some resistance to discipline, order, and culture change.”

Over the Knicks last five games; the margin of defeat is an average of just four points.  New York has been on knocking on the door but unable to break through in several heartbreaking defeats capped off by the recent loss to the Blazers on Sunday night. 

“The last Sunday to this Sunday’s game, those five games have all been games that I’ve felt we’ve played competitively, had opportunities to win,” Jackson acknowledged.  

He added, “But if we want to play together as a team, we are going to win games.”

The former legendary head coach reviews every game with Derek Fisher and assistant Kurt Rambis.  The tape has revealed some progress as described by Jackson, especially the Knicks ability to run the floor correctly to find spacing, which he said was missing earlier in the season.  Jackson also noticed the team is working the Triangle actions, starting to take options from those actions and benefiting from the offensive flexibility.  The next step is to execute in the late stages and begin to gain confidence from victories. 

“We want to be competitive, we are competitive now, I like the competitive nature.  I think right now we have a loser’s mentality because we are not finishing the games, so we have to break through that zone and get to that point,” Jackson declared.

Full Support For Fisher

Rookie head coaches face massive challenges in the NBA and Fisher’s journey is not uncommon as we saw Jason Kidd struggle in his rookie coaching campaign in Brooklyn at the start of last season.  Jackson is pleased with Fisher’s demeanor and approach despite the team’s overall record.

“I think he has remarkable character that shows up and he has a resilient attitude about what he is doing, he’s determined, and I think he’ll make it work,” Jackson expressed.

Melo’s Role Carmelo Anthony carries a significant load on his shoulders as the star on this Knicks squad and the focal point of the offense.  Jackson referred to specific moments over the past couple games where he believes Anthony excelled down the stretch.  New York’s president thought Anthony’s shot selection in Charlotte was crucial to the comeback as he nailed the 3-pointer to bring them within two points and then the trey to put his team on top with 40 seconds on the game clock.  Jackson also alluded to the pass from Anthony to Pablo Prigioni that would have tied the game at the 1:05 mark of the fourth quarter on Sunday night.

“I would like to see him flesh out the rest of his game,” Jackson explained.  “He’s been getting some assists, he’s been getting some rebounds, but I think every opportunity to offensive rebound, which is one of his strengths, I would like to see him continue to do that.  I would like to see him to continue to be aggressive defensively and a leader on that end of the floor too.”

Protecting The Future, Focusing on the Present Jackson vocalized the focus for the franchise at the moment, “We are not talking about future, we are talking about present.”

The Knicks own their 2015 pick and could be in position to snag an elite college player if they become a lottery team.  Jackson acknowledged the importance of the draft pick, although he’s not quite ready to start looking ahead to the June draft.  December 15 is another important date in the NBA as free agents who signed before September 16 can be officially dealt.  

“I’m not going to make movement for movement sake and I sometimes think there is addition by subtraction but I don’t see anybody who doesn’t want to be part of this organization, doesn’t want to play with his teammates, doesn’t want to learn,” Jackson observed.