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Bondy's Knicks Mailbag: The latest on Melo, Jax & Porzingis

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Here’s the first installment of my Knicks mailbag where I answer your questions on the coaching search, free agency, Kristaps Porzingis and the future of Carmelo and Phil. Since I didn’t get a question about it, I’d also like to include that forward Derrick Williams has a tattoo of the Johnny Depp character in the movie “Blow.”

Most likely to leave NY first; Phil, Melo or both this summer? – @knickaholic

This is the big question that will carry through the rest of the season and into the summer, and there are several factors at play. First of all, there’s Jackson’s desire to be here – the reason he has completely ruled out coaching is because he has deteriorated physically, and, frankly, it’s obvious when he’s limping across the gym. Is it out of the realm of possibility that he goes back to L.A. after this season under doctor’s orders? No, that’s a plausible scenario. I asked Kurt Rambis about this Thursday: “There’s no indication that he’s given me that he’s not committed and isn’t staying,” he said. “Nothing outside of this team has ever been broached in any way, shape, or form.”

CARMELO ANTHONY WANTS A WAY OUT OF ‘ROUGHT PATCH’ WITH KNICKS

The other big factor here is (no surprise) James Dolan. It’s no secret at this point that Jackson and Carmelo are not a match made in triangle heaven. It’s understandable from Anthony’s point of view: he signed a longterm deal under the premise the Knicks were going to try to be a competitive team, and he’s been saddled instead with a rebuilding project. So where will Dolan stand when the lines are drawn in the sand?

The guess here is that it’s on the same side as Anthony. And if Dolan starts vetoing Jackson’s triangle-inclined coaching candidates, we’re in for a nasty divorce – one that would we’re predicting will end with Steve Mills taking over and the Knicks making a run at Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks. Mark Jackson and Mills’ Princeton buddy David Blatt are the wild cards in that scenario. … The stability option would be both Jackson and Anthony sticking around for next season, although that would require the Knicks to pull a major haul in free agency.

Luke Walton would be at the top of the list of Phil Jackson's preferred coaching candidates.Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Luke Walton would be at the top of the list of Phil Jackson’s preferred coaching candidates.

Will Phil cave in and hire a coach outside of his “circle?” – @2forgetus

Well, it’s more of a coaching triangle, or tree, and it hasn’t sprouted much success. Kurt Rambis (58-151), Jim Cleamons (28-70), Brian Shaw (56-85) and Bill Cartwright (51-100) have all posted poor records as head coaches.

Jackson’s obvious and preferred candidates for the Knicks’ gig are Rambis, Shaw and Luke Walton, but here’s something to consider: there have been rumblings that Shaw and Rambis don’t get along because the former was Kobe Bryant’s choice to take over the Lakers when Jackson was talking about retiring. Neither got the job, but Rambis bolted to the Timberwolves because Shaw became next-in-line. Rambis is close with Jackson and on a longterm deal but would he accept an assistant position under Shaw? We doubt it. … So to get back to your question, the only way Phil caves is if he’s forced to.

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Do you see the Knicks attracting ANY top tier free agents this summer? – @blackreels

Things can change in four months, but from my understanding Kevin Durant is out of the picture. Of course the Knicks, as constructed, won’t have enough money to sign a max free agent. They’re in a bad spot. Arron Afflalo and Derrick Williams both have player options for about $ 8 million and $ 4.5 million, respectively. As recently as last month I spoke with Williams and he intimated he’d decline the option to become a free agent, but since then his minutes declined and the Knicks fell out of the playoff race. So it’s possible that changes. I expect Afflalo to become a free agent, but it’s important to remember that the Knicks don’t own the Bird Rights of either player. So if Afflalo and Williams don’t pick-up their player options, they’re unlikely to return. Lance Thomas and Langston Galloway will also be free agents. Let’s say Jackson creates enough cap space to land a game-changer, Mike Conley Jr. is getable if the Knicks outbid the competition. Nobody is taking a discount to play for a team that missed the playoffs three straight years. Other free agents we see the Knicks making a run at include Rajon Rondo and Evan Turner.

A variety of factors have led to Kristaps Porzingis' second-half decline.Kathy Willens/AP

A variety of factors have led to Kristaps Porzingis’ second-half decline.

What has happened to Porzingis in the second half of the season? – @jakoblacour

The easy answer is that he’s fatigued after playing more minutes than any other season in his career (the rookie wall, if you will, which is indicative of the dramatic drop in rebounds). The complicated answer is that personal regressions occur when the team struggles, and there aren’t many teams struggling more than the Knicks. I still believe Porzingis is a future star, but it’s clear he’s not ready to lead a team without Carmelo Anthony. We all forgot that he’s a project when he blasted out of the gate with amazing performances.

What more entertaining? Covering the Knicks Circus or the Russian Rodeo down there in Brooklyn? – @mathiasnunez

I covered the Nets for five seasons and each ended in disappointment. Counting Derek Fisher’s firing, I’ve documented four coaching changes and one playoff series victory. All I really want is to cover a successful, functional basketball team. It’s elusive in New York.

Tags:
new york knicks ,
nba ,
carmelo anthony ,
kristaps porzingis ,
phil jackson

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