New York Knicks team president Phil Jackson has insisted that the real hard work will be in free agency this summer as the franchise looks to rebuild.
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Jackson conceded that his “project has gone awry” this year as the Knicks have the worst record in the league at 12-51 as they were forced to start their rebuilding process early.
Both JR Smith and Iman Shumpert were traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Samuel Dalembert was waived, Amar’e Stoudemire secured a contract buy-out and Carmelo Anthony was ruled out for the rest of the season last month to undergo knee surgery.
As a result, it has been a miserable first year in charge for rookie coach Derek Fisher, but Jackson is adamant that things will improve next year once he gets the opportunity to strengthen the roster in free agency with the significant cap space at his disposal.
“We know what the first-round pick is going to mean for us, but we also know we’re going to build our team with free agents,” Jackson said, according to ESPN.
“A hundred and ninety players or so are going to be free agents. Not half the league, but like a third of the league is going to be free agents. So that’s where our priority stands.”
The Knicks are also in line to get a very high Draft pick and Jackson added that he hopes to select a player that will be a future franchise player that can help lead the Knicks for the next 10 years as they transition away from Carmelo into a new era.
However, as expected with $25m or more to spend in free agency this summer, the more immediate solutions will be found with free agent additions as Jackson conceded that it is also important that they get back to a high level of performance as soon as possible.
He also reiterated that the style of play the Knicks have will be integral to attracting new players, as with the influx of money coming into the league with the new TV deal, getting paid is no longer the priority for many.