Rose, after all, has played in just 40 percent of his games over the past five seasons. Noah was limited to just 29 games last season due to shoulder injuries. And Jennings is entering his first full season following an Achillies injury.
“In our situation, [it’s] definitely worth the risk,” Jackson said Friday. “We have had two seasons that have not been successful, and we need to move forward and win.”
Jackson could have opted for a more prudent route, building slowly around Kristaps Porzingis. It was an option he’d discussed internally prior to the summer, according to sources. But he ultimately opted to push things forward quickly.
“He went to hit a home run,” is how one person with knowledge of the Knicks’ plans put it back in July.
We’ll find out in the spring if Jackson’s high-risk summer yields strong results. The Knicks haven’t made the playoffs for the past three seasons. Jackson wouldn’t say it on Friday, but his moves show that he wants badly to make the postseason.
That would be a strong next step for Jackson’s term as team president, which has so far included just 49 wins in his two full seasons at the helm.
“The proof is in the pudding” was a phrase Jackson used on Friday when asked to assess his presidency thus far. “Fiscally, I’ve been very responsible as a president,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve really had an opportunity to do a lot with the personnel, but we’ve been successful in getting it to a position where we can operate as a basketball team. That’s been our first goal and to eat some dung in the process, we had to do that and live with it.”
If the Knicks struggle this season — or even if they don’t — there will likely be plenty of speculation about Jackson’s future in New York. He has an opt-out in his clause after the season. Jackson said on Friday he hasn’t thought about the option.
“I’ve just been going straight ahead. That really hasn’t been an item for me to think about,” Jackson said. “The fact that I had a clause put in the contract, that in case there was a lockout, that it might be a way to step away from the team or a job that doesn’t have any work action going on for a period of time. So that was one clause. That hasn’t affected what I’m doing now.”
Rose and Jennings in the backcourt? Coach Jeff Hornacek said on Friday that he doesn’t expect to use Jennings and Rose in the same backcourt extensively.
“I don’t think you go to that for big minutes. We have plenty of capable players, especially at those bigger spots,” he said. “If we want guys coming in and off the bench, we get into that half-court offense. If we need to rest our starters, we can really slow the game down a little bit and execute because we do have guys we can throw into the post.”
It may also be difficult for Rose and Jennings to play big minutes together because the Knicks don’t have a proven third point guard on the roster. Knicks GM Steve Mills said neither Rose nor any other Knick is entering the season with minutes or games restrictions. That’s a good sign for New York. Using a line that some may keep in the back of their minds as the season progresses, Hornacek said he’s optimistic that the Knicks won’t be burdened by injuries. “I don’t think we’re going to have injuries. I don’t think we’re ever going to talk about it,” Hornacek said.