And now the Knicks season is about butts.
The New York Post interviewed Charley Rosen, a longtime friend of Phil Jackson's that has the chief triangle-humper's ear. Here's what he had to say on the idea of drafting Karl-Anthony Towns:
Rosen, Jackson's confidant and his former longtime Albany Patroons assistant coach, believes center has to be the Knicks' No. 1 priority in the offseason. Rosen, a triangle savant, believes Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns, who has growing momentum as the No. 1 overall pick, isn't the answer as the low-post threat needed in the triangle, but free-agent-to-be center Greg Monroe of Detroit would be a great Jackson pickup.
Rosen reserved judgment on Duke center Jahlil Okafor because he said he hasn't seen him much, but is skeptical about Towns, despite carrying Kentucky with post buckets late in its last-second win over Notre Dame Saturday.
"They need a center with a big butt to hold space,'' Rosen told The Post. "They didn't have anybody like that. It takes away a major portion of what you can do with the triangle because then it really becomes just a perimeter offense.''
Try to ignore the particular names and players here. Rosen admits he hasn't watched Okafor, so it's not actually about a level of talent anyway. The fundamental thought isn't that Towns is not a good prospect as an NBA player (and to be fair, it's a thin line between Draymond Green and Jordan Hill), it's that Towns isn't a good prospect for the triangle. Phil Jackson—or here, his crony—will see the Knicks built into the image of an esoteric offense that's won a lot of titles, but has seen little success this decade, or for teams without multiple hall of famers. It's why he traded Tyson Chandler, and why Shump was a walk-threat after this season.
That anyone would consider putting Greg Monroe (a fine offensive player who moves like a malfunctioning bumper car on defense) alongside Carmelo Anthony underlines the lengths to which Phil and those around him are desperate for the triangle to take hold.
Obviously, Rosen's opinions about Towns don't necessarily reflect the Knicks' own—though you have to think his tastes in players aren't that different from the company he keeps—but let's take his particulars at face value for a second:
After watching Towns in the NCAA Tournament, Rosen says, "Towns is not a big-enough body. He'd never get that position in the NBA. He doesn't have enough power or core strength. He wouldn't be able to set up one dribble away from the basket. He's not a kind of center you need in the triangle. He's not physically that type of center, but he's athletic and does other things. Look how far out (Lou) Amundson, (Jason) Smith and (Andrea) Bargnani get pushed out when they post up, well out of the box.''
Leaving aside the existence of Dray or Chris Bosh or the other successful, mobile, smaller bigs that are thriving in modern NBA offensive and defensive schemes and how Towns might measure up to them, this is is an amazing comparison. Karl-Anthony Towns will not be able to post up in the NBA, because Lou Amundson, Jason Smith, and motherfuckin' Bargs get banged out of the paint. The Knicks universe is so solipsistic that it can only view a top draft prospect in the context of his similarities to Andrea Bargnani.
Which, speaking of, the Kremlinology of deciphering this quote about coach Derek Fisher is fascinating:
"[Steve] Kerr would've had a tough time going through a season like this. Fish is more capable of dealing with this kind of season.
"The test of Fisher is these guys play hard almost every night. No team plays hard 82 games, even the best. But even 20 points, 30 points down, they're paying hard. That's the coach. That's the biggest positive you can say about Fisher and that's a tremendous thing. They have a good attitude. Nobody's pouting or complaining. They root for each on the bench. For a team this bad, it's extraordinary. Phil talking about creating a new culture, it's happening. Eventually it will pay dividends."[Fisher's] in pain and suffering after games but they're together,'' Rosen added. "All to Fisher's credit.''
So Fisher, who's on a five-year, $25 million deal, is having a successful year at 14-60—the Cavs have more wins since the All-Star break, while Steph Curry and James Harden have more win shares than the Knicks have wins—because the Knicks lose by a shitload every night, take fundamentally terrible shots not like it's their job, as their job, and are nice to each other, and this is a success. Left unaddressed is the fact that, ideally, nearly all of the players with whom this "culture" is taking hold will not be on the roster next year, because they are routinely losing games by 20, 30 points.
Rosen couldn't help but get in his plug on his favorite system offense. "All that stuff about the triangle being outdated, it's all bullbleep,'' Rosen said. "Looking at the Knicks and saying it doesn't work? Of course it doesn't work. They don't have enough talent.''
Fair enough—but two things. One, you can field a team of inept basketball players, many of whom would break a sweat cracking the rotation at Maccabi Tel Aviv, and still have a team that plays correctly, if not always competently. The Sixers are deliberately employing bad basketball players this year, but Brett Brown has the team playing hard and also taking shots that are pretty much as correct as the team's ability allows them to be.
And two, it's hard enough to amass a talented roster without having to contort your personnel decisions around proving that a fossilized system and a fossilized ex-coach still have places in the NBA.
Image via Getty