Can Phil Jackson work any magic by Thursday’s NBA trade deadline to help the Knicks get into a playoff spot? It is not likely, but not impossible.
James Dolan probably likes Kurt Rambisâ€™ message a lot better.
It remains to be seen whether Phil Jackson can help achieve it by Thursdayâ€™s trade deadline.
The biggest difference early between Derek Fisher and his replacement is an embrace of a playoff chase, which Rambis took to the next level following Wednesdayâ€™s practice.
â€œThatâ€™s what I told the team. Thatâ€™s our No. 1 goal. We have no other goal than making the playoffs,â€ Rambis said.
Fisher avoided all talk about the postseason and preferred â€œthe process,â€ even once saying on ESPN Radio that he wouldnâ€™t be disappointed if the Knicks failed to qualify. That comment didnâ€™t sit well with Dolan, according to sources.
But now the Knicks (23-32), losers of 10 of their last 11 games, are a long shot for the postseason while sitting in 12th in the Eastern Conference. They also have limited assets to pull off the backcourt upgrade the team is craving.
Knicks new coach Kurt Rambis, here with Kristaps Porzingis (r.), is focused on trying to get in the playoffs.
Point guard Brandon Jennings is off the table after being traded from Detroit to the Magic on Tuesday. The Knicks have also reportedly contacted the Hawks about a potential deal for Jeff Teague, a possibility that executives around the league view as remote so long as Kristaps Porzingis is off the table and Carmelo Anthony remains committed to not waiving his no-trade clause.
The Knicks donâ€™t have a first-round pick this year and canâ€™t deal their 2017 pick because of the Stepien Rule.
Not surprisingly, Rambis and Antony both said they donâ€™t believe anything is in the works.
â€œThere hasnâ€™t been a lot of activity from our end that Iâ€™m aware of,â€ Rambis said. â€œThatâ€™s for (Jackson and GM Steve Mills) to assess. Anything that comes up Iâ€™m sure they will address it with me and ask opinion of the coaching staff and what they think. But nothingâ€™s come out.â€
Anthony was adamant during All-Star weekend that heâ€™d like some help to ease the burden off his surgically-repaired knee, but wasnâ€™t too optimistic Wednesday.
â€œIf you didnâ€™t hear anything as of now, I doubt if weâ€™re probably even doing something. But you never know,â€ Anthony said. â€œThis game over the years has done some weird things. Weâ€™ve still got to 3 p.m. (Thursday) to try to figure something out. I havenâ€™t been hearing anything. The guys on the team, seems like they havenâ€™t been hearing anything. Had a good practice. Thatâ€™s all we can do.â€
Carmelo Anthony probably will not waive his no-trade clause to join another team.
Jackson indicated Porzingis, his prized rookie and greatest accomplishment as Knicks president, was a non-starter in trade discussions. That was encouraging to the 20-year-old Latvian, who returned from a Caribbean vacation eager to get back on the court.
â€œ(The Knicks) know I want to be here. I want to be here for the rest of my career,â€ he said. â€œSo hopefully Iâ€™m not going anywhere anytime soon.â€
The Knicks are at the Nets on Friday sitting five games out of the eighth in the Eastern Conference, needing to leap frog four teams to get there. They also have to go 19-10 to finish the season at .500.
â€œIt’s going to be challenging. But we believe we can make the playoffs,â€ Anthony said. â€œWe feel that we can do it. You look at 12 through 6, 7 in the East, 5 in the East, youâ€™re not that far off. Even though weâ€™re 12th, weâ€™ve just got to put some games together, win some games, and weâ€™ll be right there. But weâ€™ve just got to do it. We canâ€™t talk about it. Weâ€™ve got to do it.â€
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