Mired in more tur­bu­lent times, can Knicks find a way out?

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY BRIAN MAHONEY

When Charles Oak­ley was yanked from his seats and put into hand­cuffs, the New York Knicks didn’t just em­bar­rass a stal­wart from their past.

They may have en­sured more fu­til­ity in their fu­ture.

Cur­rent and for­mer play­ers and peo­ple around the NBA, al­ready puz­zled by the Knicks’ treat­ment this sea­son of Carmelo An­thony, were in dis­be­lief at what they saw hap­pen­ing to Oak­ley on Wed­nes­day night. The 6-foot-8 for­mer Knick was ar­rested and dragged away from his seats dur­ing a game, and Madi­son Square Gar­den chair­man James Dolan banned Oak­ley from the arena on Fri­day. That came af­ter team pres­i­dent Phil Jack­son tweeted a dig about An­thony and his will to win on Tuesday.

“If you’re a (free agent) to be, why would you play for an Owner who treats the past greats like this or a Pres­i­dent who stabs star player in the back?” Hall of Fame player Reg­gie Miller wrote on Twit­ter.

Free agency is a prob­lem for July. For now, the Knicks (2333) are stum­bling to the Feb. 23 trade dead­line.

They ended an­other tur­bu­lent week Sun­day with an upset 94-90 win against the San An­to­nio Spurs, a model of sta­bil­ity and suc­cess — ev­ery­thing New York isn’t. A cou­ple more wins would halt the Knicks’ slide in the stand­ings, but the fall­out from what’s hap­pened off the court won’t be so easy to fix.

“I think the other night, what hap­pened is just an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of an in­ci­dent on top of an in­ci­dent on top of ev­ery­thing that’s go­ing on that’s sur­round­ing the New York Knicks or­ga­ni­za­tion right now,” An­thony said. “It’s just kind of this cloud over us right now that we have to fig­ure out a way to get out of it, and I think you have to be in it, you have to be go­ing through it in or­der to un­der­stand it. From the out­side look­ing in, it looks bad, and it’s even worse when you’re go­ing through it.”

Dolan made it clear Fri­day that Jack­son will be the one who leads them out of it — if Jack­son wants. Ei­ther side can opt out of the re­main­ing two years of Jack­son’s five-year con­tract this sum­mer, but Dolan said dur­ing an ESPN Ra­dio in­ter­view that he plans to give his pres­i­dent of bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions the full five years — and maybe even more.

And he pledged again to al­low Jack­son to make all the bas­ket­ball de­ci­sions, which will in­clude whether to seek a trade for An­thony or re-sign Der­rick Rose.

The 32-year-old An­thony’s salary, age and abil­ity to de­cline any trade make it dif­fi­cult for the Knicks to find a deal that works for both sides, and a long-term con­tract for Rose could be risky given his in­jury his­tory and the ques­tions he cre­ated about his own com­mit­ment to the team when he skipped a game this sea­son with­out alert­ing team of­fi­cials.

Jack­son hasn’t given much rea­son for con­fi­dence that he has the an­swers. The Knicks had their worst record ever in his first full sea­son and are 72-148 since that 2014-15 cam­paign, and the dam­age he’s done to his re­la­tion­ship with An­thony makes it look like he’s bet­ter at frac­tur­ing a team than build­ing one.

Yet Dolan hardly ex­pressed any dis­ap­point­ment in the ra­dio in­ter­view.

“Whether I like the re­sults or don’t like the re­sults, I am go­ing to hon­our that agree­ment all the way to the end,” Dolan said, “and it’s not over yet and my hope is that the team will be­come much, much bet­ter and that Phil will be suc­cess­ful.”

Un­der Dolan, the Knicks have won just one play­off se­ries in the last 15 years. Jack­son has been call­ing all the bas­ket­ball shots for nearly three years, but fans still di­rect much of their anger at the owner, more so now af­ter Oak­ley’s al­ter­ca­tion with Dolan’s se­cu­rity staff.

AP PHOTO

Madi­son Square Gar­den chair­man James Dolan, cen­tre, watches the New York Knicks take on the San An­to­nio Spurs dur­ing an NBA game at Madi­son Square Gar­den in New York on Sun­day.

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