The New York Knicks are on a nine-game losing straight, and there are signs of inner turmoil.
ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported on Tuesday that players are fighting with each other and attacking Carmelo Anthony for shooting too much.
More alarmingly, the players want to abandon the triangle offence that new team president Phil Jackson and coach Derek Fisher have have spent significant time and resources attempting to install, according to Broussard.
Jackson won a total of 11 titles as coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers running the triangle — an offensive system which is based on post play, passing, and off-ball movement.
But the Knicks have struggled worse than expected, and Broussard reports the players are unhappy with Derek Fisher’s insistence on running the Triangle:
Sources said one thing Anthony and his teammates do agree on is their disdain for the triangle offence. For weeks, if not longer, the players have been ready to ditch the triangle and move on to another system. They feel like other teams know what they’re going to run and where they’re going to go on the court, which makes it easier to stop them.
The Triangle has become famous because it was the system that helped players like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant win six and five championships, respectively. To some, the system’s emphasis on ball and player movement represents the proper way to play basketball.
Others disagree, noting that teams like the Bulls and Lakers won championships with the triangle because they had Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal, among others. All-NBA players could make any system look good.
Largely, the principles of the triangle offence are out-dated. The best teams around the NBA focus on fast-paced offenses that emphasise pick-and-rolls and three-pointers. The Knicks rank 21st in three-pointers attempted, despite ranking 8th in percentage.
The Knicks also rank 29th in pace, and are only 21st in offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) after cracking the top 10 the last two seasons. Combined with a putrid defence that’s worsened since they traded Tyson Chandler, the Knicks have sacrificed their offensive potency by running a system with ill-fitting pieces.
As SB Nation’s Seth Rosenthal notes, the Knicks also have an abundance of players on expiring contracts as they load up cap space for next summer. Several of the players are struggling to grasp the system and are looking worse for it in contract years. With the knowledge that they likely won’t be back next year, trying to get the triangle down is a fruitless task for many of them.
As the Knicks rebuild in the next few years, they may be able to find talent that better fits the triangle, but in the meantime, this kind of struggle seems inevitable.
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