Monday, the Knicks had a first-hand look at Marc Gasol, who team president Phil Jackson seemingly covets for the simple reason that the Memphis Grizzlies starting center, a potential free agent this summer, is debatably among the top 20 players in the NBA.
By trading guards Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and waiving center Sam Dalembert, the Knicks are preparing for what will be an extremely active offseason. In essence, their offseason has already begun.
“These transactions improve our flexibility to the current roster and the salary cap for future seasons,” Jackson explained. Maybe in a year or two the MSG Network will air a collection of shows chronicling the successful transformation of the Knicks, similar to the five-part series highlighting the opulent renovation of the Garden.
After falling to the Gasol-led Grizzlies 105-83, the Knicks were a horrific 5-32 before facing the Washington Wizards on the road last night (Wednesday). They had lost 22 of their previous 23 games.
“Losing isn’t enjoyable, in any way, shape or form,” Knicks head coach Derek Fisher said Sunday. “So from an emotional standpoint, you have to just continue to manage what you can control and continue to keep your mind focused on positive things.
“It will turn for us,” Fisher optimistically asserted. “It just doesn’t look like it right now.” And certainly not until next season at the earliest.
But in Shumpert, Smith and Dalembert, Jackson has shed three players who were not in their long-term plans. More are to follow. Now the challenge for Jackson is acquiring players through additional trades, June’s draft and free agency to will help Knicks fans erase the memories of one of the worst seasons in the franchise’s history.