Phil Jackson: Knicks can reach playoffs with tweaks to triangle

ByIan Begley ESPN logo
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

NEW YORK -- New York Knicks president Phil Jackson thinks the team can make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but suggests the club may need to tweak the spacing in its triangle offense to adapt to the modern NBA.

Jackson offered his bullish stance on the Knicks' playoff chances in an interview with WNBC-TV. He was asked by the interviewer if he believed the Knicks could make the postseason and "maybe go even further."

"Why not?" Jackson said. "I don't know what's so great about what's out here in the East. We can fill that role."

The Knicks are coming off of a 32-win season and have won a total of 49 games over the past two seasons. The eighth seed in the 2016 Eastern Conference playoffs won 44 games and based on that barometer, it would take a significant leap next season to qualify for the playoffs.

Jackson was asked in the interview with WNBC-TV if he thought it was "realistic" to think the Knicks could make the postseason in 2016-17.

"I think so. I think we're getting experience. Kristaps [Porzingis] is still a young player; he may need another year of experience," Jackson said. "But we have some experienced guys who can play."

Jackson and previous head coach Derek Fisher shied away from talking about specific expectations for the club entering the 2015-16 season, so Jackson's answers on Monday were a departure of sorts from that approach.

Jackson also said Monday that the spacing in the Knicks' triangle offense needed to be tweaked to adjust to the prevalence of the 3-point shot in today's NBA.

"The 3-point line has become our affection, because it means more when we make a 3-point shot. So the spacing has changed dramatically," Jackson said at a promotional event with Shaquille O'Neal and ESPN's Hannah Storm. "So the triangle can still be a part of that, but it has to adapt."

Jackson did not specifically explain how the spacing for the triangle needed to change. The Knicks ranked in the bottom five in offensive efficiency over the past two seasons while running the triangle offense.

The Knicks and will continue to run the triangle under new head coach Jeff Hornacek, though Hornacek says that he plans to mix in some of the elements of the offense he ran with the Phoenix Suns as well.

As of Monday evening, Hornacek had yet to decide on who he'd add to his coaching staff. But Jackson on Monday endorsed the idea of Kurt Rambis, who served an the Knicks' interim coach last season, returning on Hornacek's staff.

Jackson said in an interview with SNY that Rambis "fits in a number of ways" as a potential addition to Hornacek's staff. He added that Rambis, who served as an associate head coach under Fisher, "has a great idea of what we're trying to get accomplished and I think he can help Jeff feel his way through this club and find the best way to play."

In order to fulfill Jackson's playoff prediction, the Knicks will have to upgrade the roster in free agency. The club will have at least $18 million to spend this summer. Jackson was asked on SNY about the Knicks' priorities in free-agency.

"You name it, we've got it, basically. We're just out getting talent," Jackson said. "Players that fit what we try to do, have a collective thought. Team players."

Jackson also said the Knicks may attempt to acquire a pick in June's draft, as was earlier reported by ESPN. The Knicks have been working out college prospects at their team facility in recent days. The triangle offense has been emphasized heavily in those workouts, according to sources.

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