Just one season ago the New York Knicks were holding onto tier-one players, acquiring random pieces and putting on the court teams that were terribly arranged — not necessarily bad individual players, but ones who couldn’t make for an efficient team if they tried. The last roster move Phil Jackson made shows that the Knicks are going through a major revamping process which is something I’m sure the fans will love in the long term.
Even though Jackson did go after old acquaintances in order to fill his coaching staff and roster, waiving his old acquaintance Shannon Brown is one more sign that he is indeed focused on changing the culture around the franchise. Instead of hiring people to sell tickets and make money for the investors in the short term or just acquiring players familiar with the triangle system and not much else, Jackson seems committed to building a competitive team that will contend regularly for years to come. He could very well have held on to Brown like the Knicks did in the past with Chris Smith, for example, but he thought long term and prioritized the Knicks over feelings. Simply because Smith is JR Smith‘s brother doesn’t mean he has what it takes to make it in the NBA, and just because Jackson and Brown have history with the Los Angeles Lakers doesn’t mean he fits in the Knicks’ plans.
Of course, having people you know around you would have been helpful to ease Jackson’s transition from the bench to the front office, but this is only true if these pieces are efficient at their jobs. A guard-heavy roster with a lack of depth at the forward position could not handle one more role playing guard, even if his vertical is off the charts and his dunks exciting to watch. Brown has hopped around the league for some time now and seems to be getting limited options on where to play. Waiving him was a good decision in terms of making the team more competitive, and that should always be the focus of a team president trying to get the franchise back on the map.
Letting Brown go must have hurt obviously, given their previous relationship, but I’m sure the two will continue to be friends. The point is that being a two-time champion with so much postseason experience was not enough to make the final roster cut, because at the end of the day, production and potential is what really counts and Brown hasn’t shown New York either.
If Jackson manages to keep making the right roster moves without influence from the owner, the process of bringing the broken Knicks franchise back to life will soon come to fruition.