As a coach Phil Jackson may be the best ever - and he has 11 championships earned as a coach with two teams to prove it. As a president, though, he is on track to be one of the worst of all time. His positive achievements in New York so far since taking over in March of 2014 pretty much consist of drafting Kristaps Porzingis. Most everything else has turned into piles of garbage of various sizes - from coaching maneuvering to personnel decisions from trades to contracts to draft picks. Jackson just isn't very good at this job, and he wouldn't still have this job if he wasn't a legend.
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The Knicks are a total and utter mess right now. They have lost 10 of their last 12, they have drama befitting a bad reality show, and there is no real reason to believe that they can turn a corner any time soon. Ugly. It is shocking that a team playing in one of the world's great cities has been so impossibly incompetent for so many years now. So, what's going on in MSG? And what does it mean for bettors? Here's a look at those questions from six different angles:
Rose: Derrick Rose was once great. Once. A long time ago. Several injuries and a downward spiral of his attitude later he is an entirely different player. He was deservedly benched last week, and he responded by disappearing and missing a game without letting anyone know. Just ridiculous. He can be better, and he needs to be, but it is very tough to imagine him turning a corner in any meaningful way in a hurry. Rose was supposed to be the key to a miracle turnaround for this team, which would have worked if it was 2011. Back in 2011 Jackson was competent, too, so that time is obviously long gone.
Melo: Carmelo Anthony is a complicated guy to root for. He's ridiculously talented, but he has underachieved ever since he left Syracuse. At this point you can't help but think that perhaps he is the reason why his teams never quite are as good as they should be. He's still the best player on this team, though. That makes what is happening inevitable - trade rumors are running rampant, with him set to go to the Clippers, Cavs, and several other spots. That's not happening in all likelihood, though - he has a full no-trade clause in his contract and seems uninterested in lifting it. Even if he did, though, trading him is no strong solution. Porzingis is not ready to run this team by himself, and the team is not going to get nice value for a 32 year old with a huge contract. It would be a huge step back for a squad that already taken too many. Anthony has been vocally discontent lately - for obvious reasons - but he needs to find a way to be both a productive citizen and a strong leader if this team is to have any chance.
Road play: The Knicks are 12-8 at home. If you had season tickets and never watched a road game on TV you would think that this is actually a decent team. The problem, though, is that they are an incredibly bleak 6-15 away from home. There are a lot of things that are likely fatal about this team, but their inability to travel is certainly one of them.
Defensive play: On Monday Rose disappeared without telling anyone. By Saturday not only was he back, but he was telling coach Jeff Hornacek what to do. Rose wanted the coach to push the team harder on defense - forcing them to work harder and focus on that end of the court. Rose wasn't wrong, but it was the wrong time for him to say it, and Hornacek wasn't too thrilled. Regardless of yet more drama, the clear fact is that the team is a mess defensively. In their latest against Toronto they looked like they couldn't have cared less when they didn't have the ball, and that has been the case too often lately. Defense is hard, and it takes relentless effort and pride. The team lacks both right now, so that defensive effort is going to be their downfall until the time their mindset turns around significantly - and why in the world would we expect that at this point?
Playoff chances: There is a glimmer of hope here for the Knicks despite all of their countless woes - they play in a conference sorely lacking quality depth. They sit at 18-23. The Bulls hold down the last playoff spot at 21-21. That's a gap of just 2.5 games. A team could easily overcome that. I sincerely doubt that this team can - especially because they also need to leap over the Pistons and Hornets - but at least theoretically all is not lost.
Betting performance: Amazingly, despite their many issues, the team has been a profitable bet - at 23-18 ATS they are the sixth-best betting team in the league. They are just 1-4 ATS in their last five, though, so you don't want to be too aggressive in your support just now. Not surprisingly, they are also much better to bet at home - 13-7 ATS. At 20-21 against the total they are not of much use there, though their recently sputtering offense and the perception of how bad they are defensively has helped them go "under" four straight times.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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