The Knicks are riding high from a blowout win over the Suns, and one of the main reasons is the performance of Sasha Vujacic. The veteran tied for the team lead with 23 points and matched a career-high with six three-point field goals.
This may be harsh, but the last thing the team should be doing is celebrating such a performance, all the while beaming with pride.
Vujacic's play has left much to be desired all season long. In a season full of disappointment from all angles in New York, the guard's lack of production and failure to make an impact has poorly reflected upon Phil Jackson's inability to improve this team -- arguably more than most moves he's made.
After spending the last four years playing overseas, Jackson provided his former Lakers sharpshooter with an olive branch to return to the NBA. The hope was that Vujacic would provide a much needed presence to help bridge the gap between his new teammates and the triangle offense. Vujacic has seemingly fallen way short of the mark, and clearly hasn't been able to pick things up on the court, either.
Many players on the Knicks have stood up for Jose Calderon despite his struggles this season. No one has come to bat in the same way for Jackson's veteran.
Coming up scoreless in the previous six games, Vujacic had a much needed breakout performance, starting in place of Arron Afflalo. But that's no excuse for his inefficiency to date. The Knicks should not be celebrating their veteran providing what has been expected (and then some, in this instance, obviously) all season long.
Clearly on Wednesday night, the Knicks' younger players got their chance to shine while the ball moved and everyone started to benefit from the flow of the offense. But more often than not, Vujacic's own playing time has eaten into it of those who deserve it. The roster spot he occupies does the same thing. To see him garner such praise is discouraging, especially if it adds to the delusion that he can give the Knicks what they want, or more importantly, need.
It may be difficult to believe, but the Knicks are a talented team. They need stability, among other things. Still, this coming summer, Jackson will evaluate what worked and what didn't and hope to make the necessary improvements, much like he attempted to do last year.
In going out with old and in with the new, Kevin Seraphin is likely a goner. The team may try to trade Kyle O'Quinn as well. Next out of town should be Vujacic, because New York sorely needs to upgrade certain positions, add more depth, and get younger. Such loyalty to his former player should not stand in Jackson's way, simply because Vujacic has not rewarded the Knicks President in the first place.
Jackson's choice to take a chance on Vujacic does not reflect well, much like Derek Fisher and now Kurt Rambis' decision(s) to give him meaningful minutes that could and should go to others. His sole impressive performance this season should not create false hope that the veteran should, in any way, still be a part of the Knicks' future plans.