GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- Phil Jackson says the Knicks could be busy before Thursday’s trade deadline.
The Knicks’ team president said he is looking to add more cap space if possible but he is keeping an eye on this summer’s impending free agents. If any of those free agents potentially could be moved by Thursday’s deadline, Jackson is interested.
“We’re trying to do both,” Jackson said of adding more cap space but also looking at talent. “If we can get more cap room, great. If not, can we add a player that’s going to be a substantial addition to our team in the process so we don’t have to add so many team members when we come back next fall?
“We want to be in the conversation,” Jackson said of impending free agents that teams could move. “I don’t know how serious we can [be] about it. But we’d like to be in the conversation. So we’re interested. We’re staying open-minded.”
During his news conference to discuss Carmelo Anthony’s pending season-ending knee surgery, Jackson touched on a number of subjects. As far as whether the Knicks will be strapped by their lack of assets in potential trades, Jackson said he has enough to work with.
“Surprisingly, we seem to have enough to cover what we are looking for,” Jackson said. “I think we do. We haven’t got ... our only big contract besides Carmelo’s is Andrea's [Bargnani] right now and no one seemed to jump to that right away.”
Jackson acknowledged there isn't any trade interest from other teams in Jose Calderon or Bargnani. Jackson said he is counting on Calderon to be the "glue" for the team with Anthony out.
And he did not discount Bargnani playing this season for the Knicks.
“It’s debatable,” Jackson said when asked if Bargnani will play if he's still here after the deadline. “Now that we have a gap in scoring, this is a guy that is a natural scorer. I think the coaching staff would like to have him on the court and be competitive with his scoring capabilities. Without Carmelo and Amar’e [Stoudemire] there, we are going to need some scorers out there. And we would like to give him a forum.”
As coach Derek Fisher says, “the dance floor is now open” as far as playing time for the remaining Knicks with Anthony out and Stoudemire gone.
Jackson says the stripped-down Knicks will be “competitive” on the floor. But obviously, the rebuilding process continues as Jackson heads into the summer armed with a high lottery pick and ample cap space to go after free agents. Even though those are two good things to have for a rebuilding team, it doesn't help the current situation.
“I am not happy," Jackson said. "But it is what it is. And that's what you have to accept, that this is what we got now.
"We are a little disappointed in how the outcome came," Jackson added. "... We’ve got a number of positions to fill ... And we knew that it was going to be like this last summer, Andrea’s [and] Amar’e’s contract is over, so we are not surprised at that lack of depth. But we didn’t anticipate that Sam [Dalembert] couldn’t come in and compete a little bit for us and that we wouldn’t have some continuity there. But that all being said, we would have been in this position come April 15 anyways -- season's over, we knew we were going to build."
Jackson said he heard quite a bit during All-Star weekend about whether New York can be a place that attracts talent.
"Why wouldn't it be?" Jackson said. "In this day and age, most of everybody has a roster that only has five, six, seven guys on the roster at the end of the season ... Now fortunately some of them have two or three players that look like, ‘OK, it’s fun to play with Carmelo, yes. LeBron [James], yes. Dwyane Wade, yes.”
“I can't imagine not wanting to play in New York because of [that and] the fans and the arena,” Jackson added. “The participation the fans have in basketball and their desire for our team, it's just a fact of the way this game is structured in this city that people know the game, like the game and pay attention to it."