When Phil Jackson took over as Knicks president, he inherited a team with a somewhat murky future. The team lacked sufficient draft assets and didn't have much cap flexibility, either.
People can say what they want about Jackson, such that he's taking his sweet time hiring the Knicks' next head coach. And his efforts to change the Knicks' overall fortunates have undoubtedly been part of a very slow moving process without much proven positive results.
That said, he's been very effective in a couple of different areas. For starters, he's cleared cap space and given New York the flexibility to be big players in back-to-back summers. One could argue the talent he brought in last offseason wasn't enough to get the Knicks over the hump. But on the other hand, the team's coaching woes (decisions also spearheaded by Jackson, of course), are what truly held them back even more.
In any event, for better or worse, Jackson acted fast and overhauled this team relatively quickly so that he could put his own stamp on it. And though he wasn't left with much to work with for upcoming drafts upon coming on board, Jackson has done a solid job of getting creative.
Whether it's been buying second round draft picks, acquiring them in earlier trades, and/or flipping future years' picks to pull the trigger on a more talented player, Jackson has been aggressive. Obviously, Kristaps Porzingis was snagged using New York's own pick, but Jackson acquired two more picks in last summer's draft and scooped up a total of three second-rounders in 2014.
He's stashed the likes of Louis Labeyrie and Willy Hernangomez overseas and gotten a good look at Thanasis Antetokounmpo via the team's D-League affiliate in Westchester. Cleanthony Early has obviously been a Knick for two seasons, and Jackson turned Tim Hardaway Jr. into promising youngster Jerian Grant in a trade with the Hawks.
Speaking of Antetokounmpo and the D-League, the Knicks have really begun to utilize the minor league -- not only to scout young talent, but also while attempting to mold certain players to their liking by helping them gain familiarity with their system.
After scouting him at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament back in 2014, New York plucked Langston Galloway from the D-League after a couple of months in Westchester. Much like the Knicks are out on the prowl at the Draft Combine this week, they've continued to use the PIT to scout and evaluate potential talent -- perhaps even those to scoop up after they go undrafted.
After getting them some minor league level exposure to the triangle in Westchester, New York called both Antetokounmpo and Jimmer Fredette to the NBA club for extended looks this past season. Neither one lasted long, but having such a roster spot open to explore players is another example of flexibility at the right time.
The Knicks might not have a draft pick heading into June, but Jackson has proven that's no reason to hold back. They're easily obtainable. What's more, even without picks, there are still ways to evaluate, hone in on, and perhaps subsequently scoop up young talent through other avenues. New York is well aware of what those other avenues are.