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How Kurt Rambis' lack of competence benefits the Knicks' future

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Two wrongs do make a right!

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

I'll say this about Knicks interim coach Kurt Rambis: Dude isn't shy about speaking his mind. His press conferences have become a Mike Woodson-esque menagerie of untimely candor, illogical conclusions and inexplicable blame-laying.

The coach makes no bones about his desire to win games at the expense of the development of rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingisper Ian Begley:

He finds himself fighting the desire to insert Porzingis at center for extended stretches and let him learn through his mistakes.

Interim Knicks coach Kurt Rambis would like to have the job on a permanent basis next season, which means he needs to win games.

"Sometimes I sit there and we talk and I'm racking my brain (thinking), ‘Should we just go ahead and give him that challenge and let's see what happens?' " Rambis says.

But then the desire to win games -- to instill a winning mindset into these Knicks, he says -- takes over.
"I'm focusing on the win and I'd rather not take that gamble at this point," he says.

That quote is in reference to playing the Latvian Unicorn at center, but he said it after New York's March 4 loss to the Celtics, when Kristaps didn't play much of any position -- 2:44 in the fourth quarter, 5:58 in the second half overall -- even after dropping 15 on Boston in the first two quarters. Rambis went on to claim that the decision was based on Kristaps's difficulty guarding smaller players (defensible, I guess?) and inability to generate interior offense (Jesus Christ, dude, there are other ways of generating offense).

Rambis is putting selfish, short-term goals -- winning games long after the Knicks have fallen out of the playoff race -- ahead of grooming his players for future success. You know ... coaching. This, of course, makes him a bad coach.

But Rambis is not even competent in his role as a bad coach; he's bad at bad coaching, which could very well end up a positive for the Knicks.

Think of it this way: What would a bad interim coach do? He'd burn out his best players trying to win meaningless games and keep his own job. Rambis does this with good veterans (Carmelo Anthony's minutes are way up from the Derek Fisher Era) but he also does it with crappy veterans (Arron Afflalo and Jose Calderon's minutes are also up). This "can't trust the rooks" attitude has meant fewer minutes for Porzingis, who is objectively the third-best player on the team (3rd in Win Shares, 3rd in Value Over Replacement Player, per Basketball-Reference). They certainly could have used his offense in Boston, where they scored a paltry 17 points in the fourth quarter.

So the Knicks aren't using their best players and aren't winning, which lessens the chance Rambis will keep his job. As an added bonus, it means more rest for Kristaps, who is fast approaching the 2,000-minute mark. That's a win-win.

There comes a point on the coaching competence scale when a coach is so lacking in the basic skills needed to win games that he sabotages himself more than he sabotages the team's future, as you can see by this graph:

Who would you rather have, Knicks fans: Kurt Rambis or a bad interim coach capable of finishing this season strong and keeping his job? Give me Rambis every time.