Phil Jackson was officially hired back in March to be the new team president of the New York Knicks, but the era of the Zen master officially begins tonight at Madison Square Garden.
The Knickerbockers will begin their 2014-15 season this evening when they face the Chicago Bulls. Tonight will also mark the beginning of Derek Fisher’s coaching career as he hopes to bring New York back to the postseason after they failed miserably last season.
“This is an amazing opportunity,” Fisher said. “The excitement in the city. The future of our team and where we possibly can go with so many new faces. We’re excited to get this started. We know we have a lot of work to do. We’re going to get better every day and every week. There’s no question how excited we are to get it started.”
It’s been 41 years and counting since the New York Knickerbockers last won an NBA championship. It’s the sixth longest championship drought currently in the NBA, and looks as if the drought will continue for another season according to many of the experts.
Media and computer systems feel that New York will not be one of the eight teams that will make it to the Eastern Conference playoffs. Last season, the Schoene computer correctly predicted that New York would win 37 games. The Shoene system predicts the Knicks to be 31-51, which is good enough for 13th in the Eastern Conference. The same computer has the Philadelphia Sixers, which many feel is the worst team in the league, to win only 11 less games than the Knickerbockers.
“I don’t like dealing with predictions,” Carmelo Anthony said. “I hate it.”
“But it’s cool. I’m fine with that. I’m fine with the predictions and other people’s opinions. I can’t control other people’s opinions, but I’m fine with that. We know what we have to do over here. It’s just about us going out there and doing it, not what somebody else is predicting us to do.”
Before training camp started, Anthony and Coach Fisher have stated that it’s unrealistic to expect a any championship run this season with a completely new roster and system from last year.
“It’s not going to all come together tonight. It’s just the first step for us,” “It’s a work in progress now. It’s going to be a work in progress until the end of the season,” Anthony said. “We’re not looking for nothing easy, but we know it’s a work in progress. We have a chance to create something here, and we’re excited about it.”
Anthony has stated many times that he willing to be patient with the whole triangle scheme, and seems excited as the team and him club tries to learn the triangle and Fisher’s defensive system. This is a far cry from the isolation-heavy system that Mike Woodson had run with the Knickerbockers for the past two seasons.
“I’m comfortable with the fact I know I’m going to get better in what we’re trying to do,” Anthony said. “It’s uncomfortable for a lot of people on our team right now because it’s something new. Guys are still trying to figure it out. But I’m very comfortable in this challenge and journey. I look forward to this season. We believe it will work out.”
Fisher still is working on getting his players to buy into the triangle. He seems to be more focused on getting everyone to buy into the “team” concept more than wins and losses.
“You can expect us to give our best effort and do our everything we possibly can to win,” Fisher said. “We’re becoming as a team that’s committed to our team first. We’re not going to be focused on how to make things work for just certain guys. We want to find a way as a team that, offensively and defensively, blends the talents and ability of every guy on the floor. We truly are a team. It’s the New York Knicks and not just one or two guys and everybody else.”
J.R. Smith has publicly admitted it would take “months” for the team to grasp the triangle offense and just last week said that the new offense has been a struggle for him to understand.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Smith said. “I mean, believe it or not, being the type of player I’ve been, it’s a struggle. I’m not going to lie.
“Trying to think about the rest of the team over myself or my scoring is something that I never really had to do before,” Smith continued. “I’ve always been in a situation to score, now I am in position to take my time and let the game come and let my teammates succeed more than myself, I think that’s the ultimate win.”
The Knickerbockers need a big year from the 2013 Sixth Man Award winner, and will likely need another season like that one if they are going to make any run at the playoffs.
Fisher’s expected starting lineup is Anthony, Iman Shumpert, Jose Calderon, Jason Smith, and Samuel Dalembert. This will be the first time these five will actually play together as a unit.