Phil Jackson admits Triangle Offense is a Failure in New York

phil-jackson-new-york-turnaround-1The return of Phil Jackson to basketball hasn’t exactly been a triumphant story so far. Serving as president of the New York Knicks, Jackson has seen his team struggle to a horrid 5-36 record, before finally cobbling together some wins to sit at 10-39.

Many point to a poorly constructed roster as the main cause of New York’s problems, however, Jackson’s insistence on instituting the triangle offense is also to blame. The hope is that Jackson can one day help replicate the success of his days in Chicago and Los Angeles by pushing the triangle. But up until now, the results have been disastrous, and Jackson recently admitted it.

“Like nothing I’ve seen before,” he told the New York Times when asked about the team’s rough start. “So far, my experiment has fallen flat on its face.”

It wasn’t long ago that Jackson was enjoying retired life, living in L.A. with Jeanie Buss, part owner of the Lakers. And it didn’t look like he was coming back…that is until Knicks owner James Dolan lured him out of retirement with a 5-year, $60 million deal to become team president.

Not long after being hired, Jackson discussed that one of his immediate objectives was to get head coach Derek Fisher and the team on board with the triangle. The 11-time NBA champion coach also called his work with New York a “three- to five-year” reconstruction plan, aided by lots of cap space this summer and what looks to be a high first-round draft pick. Furthermore, Carmelo Anthony should be much healthier next season. But will all of this be enough with the triangle still in place? Here’s an excerpt from the NY Times article that explains Jackson’s thoughts:

phil-jackson-new-york-turnaroundBut as to skepticism about whether he can make the triangle work in a league in which no one else plays it, Jackson said: “I’m not daunted by the number of people who have commented that this way of playing is arcane, that the game has moved on. The game has moved on.”

He also believes that the game, stylistically, moves in mysterious ways.

“I think it’s still debatable about how basketball is going to be played, what’s going to win out,” he said, leaving no doubt of his disdain for the point-guard-dominated concept of “screen-and-roll, break down, pass, and two or three players standing in spots, not participating in the offense.”

Jackson strongly believed that the Knicks would be a playoff team this season when he took over. And the talent was there, at least before he traded the team’s best defensive player, Tyson Chandler. Since that point, New York has continued to trade off solid veteran contributors like Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith in an effort to look towards the future.

Now sitting at 10-39 and eyeing a potential season shutdown for Anthony and his ailing knee, New York obviously isn’t going to the playoffs. But in the 2015-16 season, perhaps we’ll see a more-talented version of this Knicks team. And if this comes to fruition, Jackson will get another chance to prove that the triangle can still work in today’s game. But until then, he’ll just have to keep enduring the criticism that come along with heading one of the NBA’s worst teams.

Miami Heat Betting: Hassan Whiteside is for Real

hassan-whiteside-miamiWhen LeBron James left the Miami Heat, the team from South Beach was considered a long shot to make the postseason. After all, they are an aging club with a limited bench. But thanks to the emergence of Hassan Whiteside, Miami is currently in the postseason mix and surprising the league.

In just 18.5 minutes per game, the former Marshall big man is averaging 9.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and shooting 62.4% from the field. Overall, pretty amazing for a 25-year-old who’d previously appeared in just 19 games before, with stops in the NBDL, China and Lebanon sprinkled in between. So where did this guy come from?

After displaying impressive shot-blocking skills and raw athleticism in college, Whiteside attracted attention from the Sacramento Kings coaching staff. It took some convincing of the owners, but Sacramento ended up taking Whiteside with their second-round pick (33rd overall) in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Unfortunately, the Kings plucked the 7-footer before he was ready to contribute. Whiteside was too skinny and too immature to fully grasp the complexities of NBA offense and defense. It didn’t help that many league executives also saw him as a problem player with an attitude. So Whiteside spent most of his early days in the D-League, before being waived by Sacramento in 2012. What followed was the previously described international journey.

And Whiteside had more to deal with in Lebanon than just culture shock. He heard a nearby car bomb explode, witnessed a dead body lying in the street, and saw brutal fights happen in the stands of games. “It put things in perspective,” Whiteside told SI.com. “It’s different watching this stuff happen on the news than it is when it’s right down the street.”

hassan-whiteside-miami-1Despite everything going on around him, Whiteside found a way to pack on muscle, learn the intricacies of basketball and transform himself into a capable NBA center. “Doing it every day was great experience. It’s been NBA, NBA, NBA since I was little,” Whiteside said. “Being over there didn’t change anything. Other people probably thought I wouldn’t get back. But I did.”

Whiteside came back to the US, going through a failed training camp stint with the Memphis Grizzlies, then signing with the NBDL’s Iowa Energy. It was at this point that the Heat, who’d always been interested in Whiteside, signed him off the Energy’s roster. Miami worked out the youngster back in 2010 after being impressed with his 7’7″ wingspan and untapped potential. However, like many other teams, they passed while citing that he needed more development. But more recently, they saw something different from the guy whom they overlooked in the 2010 Draft.

Signed in December, Whiteside quickly solidified his spot on the roster after some gaudy double-doubles, such as a 23-point, 16-round performance against the Clippers and a 16-point, 16-rebound performance against the Bucks. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra wanted to slowly work the center into the lineup, but he’s just been too good to keep on the bench.

With Whiteside on the floor, the Heat are +2 points offensively and 3.2 points per 100 possessions better defensively. And things don’t look to change for either the team nor Whiteside because he only seems interested in getting better. “Every day is a new day to get better,” he said. “I want to make people remember my name.”

One thing’s for sure right now, nobody in the NBA will be forgetting his name any time soon.

Cleveland Cavaliers Betting: LeBron James promises to come off Bench if needed

lebron-james-benchEven going back to his days as a teenage rookie, LeBron James has never come off the bench during his 11-year NBA career. However, King James volunteered to do so if that’s what his team needs to win. And he cited teammate Tristan Thompson’s willingness to do so as reason why he would also make the same sacrifice. Here’s a look at what he told reporters following today’s practice about the matter:

“Whatever benefits the team, I’m for. Tristan [Thompson] is the same. And the rest of the guys are starting to understand that. I think we’re getting it. I think we understand that, at the end of the day, not one individual has ever won a championship. It’s all about a team. For me, being the leader of the team, it doesn’t matter, whatever this team needs in order for us to win.

“I’ll come off the bench. I’m serious. I’ll come off the bench and, if it helps our team, that’s what it’s about. It’s about a team and how we all fit together, how the five guys on the court fit together, how the eight guys or 10 guys on the bench all help the guys that’s on the floor, and so on and so on. So, sacrifice is the biggest word in team sports, but it’s not about saying it. It’s about doing it. It’s about living it.”

lebron-james-bench-1Cleveland is on an 11-game winning streak right now, and James is averaging 26.2 points, 7.4 assists and 5.6 rebounds so far. So there’s not much chance that he’ll really be coming off the bench any time soon. However, his point is that he’s willing to do anything to ensure that the Cavs keep winning.

As alluded to before, center/power forward Thompson has needed to make a big sacrifice, vacating his starting spot in favor of 7-footer Timofey Mozgov. And so far, Thompson is still playing well in a reduced role. Veterans James Jones, Shawn Marion and Mike Miller have also seen their playing time fluctuate as head coach David Blatt tinkers the lineup to find the perfect combination.

Perfection is definitely a hard thing to come by in the NBA. However, it appears that the Cavs are getting closer after making new additions like Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. This new influx of defensive and scoring (Smith) talent puts Cleveland in a much better position to contend for a title now, which has been the goal ever since LeBron decided to come home.