Say what you want about Phil Jackson, but when the time comes around to tell it like it is you can count on him to be transparent.
In the latest edition of the Jackson Chronicles written by his friend Charlie Rosen on Today's Fast Break, Jackson talks about a tough decision he had to face when trading former center Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks in 2014.
"One of the first deals I engineered when I came back to New York was to trade Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas for Shane Larkin, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert, plus a second-round pick that the Mavs owed to the Celtics," Jackson said.
"In talking with Boston, I was given the option of taking that pick or else taking Jae Crowder. I liked Crowder but I thought he wouldn't get much of a chance to play behind Carmelo, so I took the pick which turned out to be Cleanthony Early. While Cleanthony has missed lots of time in the past two seasons with us, he still has the potential to be a valuable player. Even so, I should have taken Crowder."
Wow, there's a lot to this quote. First, you have to respect the accountability as Phil would love a mulligan. And if you've watched Crowder develop in Boston under Brad Stevens, you understand why.
Secondly, there's a reference to a question that I've had and that revolves around the future of Cleanthony Early, who Phil refers to as "valuable." That would mean he could be candidate for a roster spot.
As far as Crowder goes, he's a glue guy who would have helped the Knicks. Would his presence have made them better? Hard to say. Would they have been good enough to miss out on Kristaps Porzingis? You wouldn't be wrong if you looked at it that way.
I was a huge proponent of trading Tyson Chandler to the Mavericks in 2014 and I thought the 34th pick was a valuable one at the time. If you're looking at a player who they missed out on drafting, the Nuggets took Nikola Jokic of Serbia 41st overall and Jokic is on the verge of superstardom.
In terms of the rest of the article, Jackson talks about the team from the mid-point of the season on and how they had to rely on youth to try to sustain some modest early-season success. This should give Knicks fans hope as they've added veteran players who have the proven ability to log heavy NBA minutes despite health concerns surrounding Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
On the topic of health, one veteran NBA scout recently told me that when your front office is faced with a decision of talent versus health questions, you take talent every time and worry about health if and when there are issues.
"You can't base a decision on health," the scout said. "Obviously every decision is different but when you're dealing with players like Rose and Noah, you worry about health later. Hopefully, you have the depth to get through it until they get back."
Last year, the Knicks didn't have the depth or the players to log the front-end minutes to hold up over 82 games. Jackson, as well as Knicks fans, hope they've built a roster that can stand up an entire season this time around.
Having Crowder on that roster sure would help.