Kurt Rambis hints at quick turnaround ... but do you buy it?
The New York Knicks have been non-factors for the better part of 20 years.
Since making a legendarily improbable run to the 1999 NBA Finals, New York has missed the playoffs in 11 of a possible 17 seasons. Not since 2000 have the Knicks made it beyond the second round.
Thus, it's entirely understandable for fans to desire an immediate turnaround. That's quite the burden to place upon a front office that only has two regular seasons under its belt, but it's the way sports in New York have always been: high expectations with a small window for a rebuild.
"If we get the right pieces and continue to grow as a team and everything, we see this turning around real quick. The potential is there to turn it around really quick," Rambis said. "I understand that (Anthony's) eager to get into the playoffs and we all are. There's nobody on this staff that feels comfortable not making the playoffs, we're all in the same boat with that. We all know that we have to do things better and we have to get better in order to make that happen. It's a process (to build a winning team) but I'm not thinking 10 years from now. We're all assuming it's going to happen a lot sooner rather than later."
That's exactly what Knicks fans are hoping to see. The reality is, saying it and doing it are entirely different things.
Many have come to New York with false promises in the past, and even more have been hindered by outside factors in their attempts to make good on their guarantees. Team president Phil Jackson has an incomparable resume, but his 11 championships were won as a head coach.
Thriving as an executive is an entirely different process.
There's no question that Jackson has a brilliant understanding of the game. Even Rambis has shown that he knows what it takes to win as a player—four championships with the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers—and a coach—two titles as an assistant to Jackson.
The question is, can they thrive in their current roles?
The answer to that question will determine whether or not the Knicks escape obscurity. Jackson is locked up long-term as team president, and Rambis is the favored candidate to become the full-time head coach.
Per Bondy, Rambis understands why Knicks fans are so frustrated after nearly two decades of inferiority, but made it clear that the organization is viewing Phil Jackson's first year as the start of the rebuilding process.
"I know that when you've been a Knicks fan for a long period of time and not making the playoffs over a period of years they all kind of blur together," said Rambis, a front-runner to assume the permanent job next season. "We're looking at it from a standpoint of new management, new coaching staffs. Last year was a year I calculate as Year 0. Just to kind of clean things up and move forward. This is sort of our first year of really trying to move forward and seeing what we have and the direction that we want to go and adding pieces. ... I think we've done a nice job with the process. And we're making progress."
In other words, nothing that happened before Jackson's arrival matters to those in Jackson's circle.
That may seem short-sighted, but the entire purpose of that mentality is ensuring that New York doesn't rush the process. It's already committed to a brighter future by landing rookies Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant.
As for the rest of the roster, Jackson has made a point to give short-term contracts to the players whom he's uncertain of. For instance, Arron Afflalo and Jose Calderon, the two biggest contracts on the roster after Anthony and Lopez, are both signed through 2016-17 at the latest—the year in which the biggest of names will become free agents.
This approach is both frustrating and the sign of a long-term vision.
The question is, can the Knicks turn things around in time to make the most of a 31-year-old Anthony's prime?
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