Charley Rosen's infinite-part series on Phil Jackson's 2014-15 season continues, with Part 4 delving into the controversial trade of J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. The headline is a wee bit over-the-top, but hey, it was a pretty big deal at the time.
And boy howdy, Phil didn't hold back.
On J.R., who had apparently gotten into the habit of showing up late to team meetings or missing them altogether:
"We talked about his statement to the press that our shooting guard depth was going to be the team's asset, but so far it hadn't worked out that way. He was supposed to carry the scoring load for the second unit and he wasn't doing the job. I also said that because of his unacceptable behavior, he had two strikes against him with this team. He didn't really respond. He's a very sensitive guy, with his big doe eyes. He looked like he was going to tear up. But he finally responded that he was going through some issues with his gal."
"After he suffered a hip injury in Dallas, his game went rapidly downhill. Did he have any other issues to explain his decline? He said, 'No. I don't know what has gone wrong with my game.' As with J. R., nothing got resolved.
"I like Shump, but he has a very loud, big personality. It was difficult for most of the other guys to deal with, especially if things don't go well for him or the team"
On Tim Hardaway:
"We were hoping that Tim would establish himself as a bona fide starter, but he's been surprisingly inconsistent. Sometimes the personalities of a coach and a particular player simply don't match. That could be the case with Tim and Fish, but I'll wait until the end of the season and see what Fish has to say. Tim still has a bright future -- he wants to be good, and if he learns how to improve all the aspects of his game he has a chance."
On Pablo Prigioni (whom he traded), Jose Calderon (who is very much still on the team) and Andrea Bargnani (who is now a Net):
"[Prigioni is] 37 and has a small enough contract for next season to entice a contending team to want him as a backup. Same thing with [Jose] Calderon. ... If a team making a championship run needs some stability at the point, then we'd listen. Would anybody take a chance on [Andrea] Bargnani? I did and got no return whatsoever. Maybe he'd be another candidate for a salary dump. Maybe we'll just bite the bullet and waive him. Anyway, we're now in the hunt."
He also praised Langston Galloway and Cole Aldrich, accused Samuel Dalembert of sleeping during team meetings and expressed his hope that Carmelo Anthony would hurry up and get the dang surgery already.
Lawd, that sure is a lot of stuff! First and foremost, Phil is 100-percent correct about J.R.'s big doe eyes. You can just get lost in those puppies for days. As for the player criticisms, it's not like the Zen Master hasn't been this brutally (and publicly) honest before. Remember those player evaluations that were published during the preseason (once again, via Rosen)?
I'm certainly glad this article came out now and not immediately after the trade, which would have seemed a petty attempt to justify the deal. Still, is this sort of behavior what you want from your team president? Phil has been playing this sort of game in the media for decades now, so it shouldn't come as a surprise. He isn't especially savage toward any of his players, except perhaps Bargnani, who...yeah. And if players were missing and/or sleeping through meetings, they deserve this kind of treatment. Phil wanted a more professional roster, and he's taken steps to make that happen.
So please, new Knicks, show up on time to meetings, and keep your eyes open.