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NBA on Sling: Time to Free the Knicks From the Tyranny of James Dolan

The Knicks fell to the Warriors on Sunday 112-105, dropping their record to 25-38, “good” for 12th place in the East, and 5 ½ games behind the Pistons, who currently hold the 8th and final spot in the playoffs. Put another way, they have the sixth-worst record in the league. Legend has it that the NBA once took drastic measures to save the Knicks, it’s time again for the commissioner to step forward.
Following a December 11 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, the New York Knicks were sitting at 14-10, Kristaps Porzingis was the prince of the city, Derrick Rose was averaging 17-4-5 and Phil Jackson was finally looking like a true genius, as opposed to the guy standing by while Michael, Kobe and Shaq worked their magic. Since then, however, they’ve gone 11-28; Jackson systematically tortured Carmelo Anthony, in a weirdly ill-conceived effort to get him to waive his no-trade clause, but instead scared away all potential trade partners, and so left the Knicks with a disgruntled star who has been reduced to begging reporters not to ask him questions; rededicated themselves to Jackson’s beloved triangle offense, a move that Rose reacted to with a curt “S*** – do I have a choice?“; franchise legend Charles Oakley was physically removed by security four minutes into a game at the Garden, allegedly for being verbally abusive toward own James Dolan, who subsequently accused Oakley of being drunk and said Oakley “needs help.”
This isn’t the first time the Knicks have fallen into a death spiral of despair under Dolan’s watch. Any Knicks fan over the age of 20 no doubt still has nightmares about the Isiah Thomas Era, there’s no need to relive it. But suffice to say that no other NBA owner has done so little with so much as Dolan. Dolan inherited a team featuring Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston, Oakley, John Starks and Larry Johnson, one that was good enough to make the Finals in ‘98. But in the 17 seasons since Ewing’s departure, they’ve made the playoffs just five times, losing in the first round four times, they’ve won just 42% of the games, which works out to 34 wins a season, and they’re on their 11th head coach.
The latest downfall of the Knicks started with the hiring in 2014 of Jackson, who was signed to a 5-year, $60 million contract. Jackson in turn made things worse by singing ‘Melo to the current 5-year, $124 million contract with the now problematic no-trade clause. And this past offseason Jackson made things worse still by trading for Rose, one of the league’s least reliable superstars and a man who appears poised to become the league’s first former MVP not to make the Hall of Fame. Rose might have adapted more quickly to the triangle had he not spent much of the preseason in court fighting rape charges.

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The one bright light of the Jackson administration has been the drafting and development of Porzingis, the 7’-3” Latvian who’s averaging 18 points and 7 rebounds per game. Just 21 and weighing only 240 pounds, if he could add 20 pounds of muscle and learn to lay off (or make) the mid-range jumpers, he could be a force in this league for years to come. But not so long as Dolan runs the team.

And that is why, for the good of the league, the game, and the people of New York, Commissioner Adam Silver must force Dolan to sell. There’s precedence for such a move, if you look back just a couple years to how the league handled the Donald Sterling mess, so why not now? Dolan would make a boatload of cash, interest in the team and league would go through the roof, new ownership could trade away ‘Melo for draft picks, let Rose walk, and rebuild around Porzingis. It’s time.

 Wednesday

Detroit Pistons (30-32) vs Indiana Pacers (32-30)
8pm ET on ESPN

Boston Celtics (40-23) vs Golden State Warriors (51-11)
10:30pm ET on ESPN

Thursday

San Antonio Spurs (48-13) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (35-28)
8pm ET on TNT

Los Angeles Lakers (19-44) vs Phoenix Suns (21-42)
10:30pm ET on TNT

Saturday

Golden State Warriors (51-11) vs San Antonio Spurs (48-13)
8:30pm ET on ABC

Sunday

Chicago Bulls (31-31) vs Boston Celtics (40-23)
3:30pm ET on ABC

Cleveland Cavaliers (42-19) vs Houston Rockets (44-19)
10:30pm ET on ESPN

Watch the NBA on TNT by subscribing to Sling, ESPN by subscribing toSling Orange, and on ABC by subscribing to Sling Orange + Broadcast Extra

All stats courtesy ESPN and Basketball Reference.

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