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Phil Jackson’s Front Office Legacy With NY Knicks Riding On Results Of Off-Season Additions

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Phil Jackson

 

After hiring first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek and significantly upgrading their roster with the off-season acquisitions of former league M.V.P. Derrick Rose, guards Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings, and the defensive-minded Joakim Noah, pre-season projections had the New York Knicks ending their three-year playoff absence and challenging the Eastern Conference’s top contenders in 2016-17.

Thanks to victories in four of their last five games, those lofty predictions don’t sound as absurd as they did during New York’s 3-6 start. But the new-look Knicks have already looked eerily similar to a few of Madison Square Garden’s more recent NBA residents, and team president Phil Jackson hasn’t been the front office hero that the franchise was hoping for when they hired him back in March of 2014.

During Jackson’s first two-plus seasons in New York, the Knicks have been under the guidance of three different head coaches, set a franchise record for fewest wins [17], missed the playoffs twice, and earned a combined record of 49-115 [excluding 2016-17]. Of course, the potential for disaster only increased when Jackson dropped a boatload of cash on an aging, one-dimensional center and traded for the potential time bomb otherwise known as Derrick Rose.

On paper, adding a former league M.V.P., a pair of capable guards, and a once-elite defensive specialist, to a veteran, yet still-productive superstar, and a 7 foot 3 sophomore-sensation, sounds like a great idea. Unfortunately, varying priorities, a rookie bench-boss, and too many cooks in the offensive kitchen has led to obvious shortcomings on both ends of the floor and serious questions about the future.

Entering Tuesday night’s tilt versus the Portland Trail Blazers, New York ranked 21st in points allowed per game [106.2], 22nd in point differential [-3.8], 21st in points per game [106.2], 19th in turnovers per game [14.1], and 19th in free throw percentage [.758]. And the reality that the Knicks may soon be facing makes those depressing numbers seem promising.

Although Rose was once thought of as the league’s premier point guard, knee injuries have taken an obvious toll on the Chicago product and the 66 games he logged last year with the Bulls is the closest he’s come to playing a full season since starting 81 games in 2010-11. For the recently point guard-less Knicks, adding Rose was a risk worth taking due to his ability to make an immediate impact, and acquiring a former M.V.P. reassured Knick Nation that the team is trying to win now.

But despite being cleared of recent allegations of sexual assault, Rose can easily become a distraction in New York’s fragile locker room, and given his history, some feel that he’s a significant injury waiting to happen. Even if he stays healthy and avoids off-court drama, he’s also currently in the final year of the five-year deal he signed with Chicago, and is therefore playing for a new contract—so theoretically, the Knicks might end up paying around $21 million to ”rent” the former Memphis Tiger for the season.

A few years ago, signing a high-energy center such as Noah would’ve been cause for a parade in New York City. But time and injuries have forced Noah’s numbers into a steady decline in recent years. Last season, he saw action in just 29 games, and the former Florida Gator has only played in more than 70 games on three occasions during a nine-year career.

Signed to a four-year deal worth $72 million, Noah has already gone scoreless in three games and finished with only two points in three others, forcing Hornacek to explore other starting options barely a month into the season. And when he is on the floor, Noah’s defense-only approach makes it much easier for opponents to double-team Kristaps Porzingis.

Implementing the Triangle offense was at the heart of Jackson’s return to New York, but with Rose better suited to pick-and-rolls, Anthony needing his freedom, and the fact that Porzingis needs some freedom of his own in order to continue his development, Hornacek has rarely turned to the Zen Master’s bread and butter. However, during training camp, Hornacek told the media that Jackson had agreed to give the rookie head coach his freedom.

”We talked a lot about it over the summer,” said Hornacek via ESPN. ”Phil [Jackson’s] given us the ability to run it any way we want, how we set it up. We talked [about] what we feel is a good working way to run it with different options. We’ll get to all those as the year progresses, but it should be pretty easy.”

Armed with an unrivaled resume, Jackson’s heroic return was supposed to mark the beginning of a new era in franchise history that, at the very least, would see the Knicks rise to reside among the Eastern Conference elite. But with just two years remaining on a five-year contract, Jackson’s front office stint with the Knicks is now riding on the results of the team’s expensive off-season.

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Kings, NBA Announce Start of Joint Investigation into Allegations Against Luke Walton

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The Sacramento Kings and the NBA have announced that they have started a join investigation into the allegations of sexual assault made by
Kelli Tennant, a former host on Spectrum SportsNet LA, in a civil suit filed against new head coach Luke Walton from alleged incidents back in 2014.

“The Kings and the NBA take these allegations very seriously and will collaborate to conduct a complete and thorough investigation,” the team and league said in a statement.

The Kings’ investigation will be led by Sue Ann Van Dermyden, the founding partner of Sacramento law firm Van Dermyden Maddux, and Jennifer Doughty, a senior associate attorney at the firm, while the league’s investigation will be led by Elizabeth Maringer, the league’s senior vice president and assistant general counsel, integrity and investigations.

Tennant held a news conference earlier this week to comment on the allegations to which Walton’s attorney responded by calling the allegations “baseless” and calling Tennat “an opportunist”.

Walton became the head coach of the Sacramento Kings immediately following his dismissal as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this month.

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Former NBA Player Sebastian Telfair Convicted in Gun Case, Faces 15 Years in Prison

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Former NBA player and once highly touted young prospect Sebastian Telfair has been convicted of possessing a firearm and could face up to 15 years in prison, according to TMZ Sports.

Telfair, 33, was busted back in June 2017 in Brooklyn, New York after cops found several weapons in his possession during a traffic stop.

Telfair, a high school phenom, played for the Boston Celtics, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors, and Phoenix Suns, among others, throughout his 12 seasons in the NBA, but many believe that he never reached his full potential.

Telfair plead not guilty and tried to fight back the charges, but a jury found him guilty on Wednesday of felony criminal possession of a weapon.

Telfair, who could face up to 15 years in prison, is scheduled back in court in June for sentencing.

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Golden State Warriors

Sports Reporter Suing Kings’ Luke Walton for Sexual Assault Allegations

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Sacramento Kings new head coach Luke Walton is already in the news, but for all the wrong reasons, and he has hired attorney Mark Baute to defend him against the allegations of sexual battery made by sports reporter Kelly Tennant, who is suing Walton.

According to TMZ Sports, Walton and his legal team are blasting the accuser, and Baute issued the following statement;

“Luke Walton retained me to defend him against these baseless allegations,” Baute said. 

“The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, & her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom.”

According to the suit, Tennant, who worked as a reporter for Spectrum SportsNet and SportsNet LA, claims that while Walton was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, he asked her to come and meet him at the Casa Del Mar Hotel in Santa Monica, California, to drop off a book she had published.

Tennant says that she asked Walton to write the forward in her book due to a business relationship that the two had had for several years.

Upon arriving at Walton’s hote, he conviced her to come up to his room so that the two could “catch up” and upon arriving in his room Walton pinned her to the bed and placed his hips and legs over her body, forcing kisses on her neck, face, and chest.

Tennant claims that she screamed for him to stop and attempted to break free, but Walton held her down, groped her breasts and groin, and rubbed his erection on her leg.

Tennant claims she was “in shock and fear. She was afraid she was about to be raped,” the suit states. 

Additionally, Tennant claims that when Walton finally stopped and released her he escorted her out of the hotel room as if nothing ever happened and she claims that “He smiled, laughed again and made the disturbing statement, ‘Good to see you,'”

The disturbing behavior allegedly continued while Walton was the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers back in May 2017, and Tennant claims that Walton once greeted her by uttering “vulgar, guttural sounds at her” and said, “mmmm … you’re killing me in that dress.”

The Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Sacramento Kings all stated that they had no knowledge of the alleged incident during Walton’s tenure.

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