Knicks continue to disappoint
There is no way to sugar coat this season, it’s simply been a disappointment. Sunday’s game against the Nets was another punch to the gut. I like so many Knick fans couldn’t stop thinking what does Durant have against us as he dropped 53 points. Why didn’t he want to do this in a Knick uniform at Madison Square Garden?
But we can’t continue to focus on things that can’t be changed. We need to look forward and believe things will get better. I know it doesn’t feel like it’s going to happen anytime soon as the Knicks are going to finish with a losing record. While this season’s goal for wins won’t be achieved it doesn’t mean that the front office needs to be fired. The master plan has always been to build a championship contender and that long term goal is still on track.
You can’t always measure progress by wins, sometimes progress takes time to reveal itself. That is why I implore James Dolan and the Knick fan base to practice a little patience and “Trust the Process“!!
Before I start pointing out some of the positives I going to prove to you that I am not a delusional Knick fan by acknowledging the team’s mistakes.
- Julius Randle contract extension, 4yrs/$117M. Got fooled by “contract year” production.
- Tyrese Haliburton, missing on him twice, first in draft then intrade market.
- Nerlens Noel, resigned, 2yrs/$18M. Can’t pay your back up Center more than your starter, Mitchell Robinson.
Before getting caught up in the negativity and second guessing, Knick fans need to first recalibrate their expectations. The reality is that no front office is perfect, they all make mistakes, even the most successful ones. They just need to avoid making awful decisions.
While Leon Rose hasn’t been perfect, he hasn’t made any awful decisions. Julius Randle’s extension is tradeable, it is not going to strangle the Knicks’ cap space like the Amar’e Stoudemire and Joakim Noah contracts did.
Missing out on Haliburton was disappointing, but at least they didn’t strike out with the two players they drafted, Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley. The Knicks didn’t do as well as they could have, but did get better.
As for Noel, next season his deal becomes an expiring contract, so there is a chance he can be traded. It would be hard for the Knicks to justify spending over $20M on the Center position next season between resigning Mitch and also paying Nerlens.
Now that we have gotten the negatives out of the way, let’s focus on the positives.
Fans don’t realize that big success is the result of little successes achieved over a long period of time. When you look at what the Knicks have done over the last couple of seasons, you see a lot of little successes, let’s review.
In the last 3 drafts: 2019, 2020 & 2021, the Knicks have acquired 4 players: RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, and Quentin Grimes, that have been able to contribute right away, which is unheard of. What is also amazing is that only one of them was a top 5 lottery pick, RJ Barrett. Both IQ and Grimes were late 1st round picks, 25th overall. Players picked that late usually don’t crack the rotation. What the Knicks have done in the 1st round is unheard of.
2nd Round Silver
When you look at the 2nd round picks, you see little successes there too. Deuce McBride has looked promising, he is definitely going to be a good NBA player. Jericho Sims looks like he could be a solid back up Center, which is great for a player drafted 58th overall. Players taken that late don’t make NBA rosters.
Then let’s not forget Rokas Jokubaitas, he has been named as one of the most promising young players in Europe. His performance in the Spanish league this season has increased his worth above the Knicks’ investment, the 34th pick in the draft.
While none of the 3 players drafted in the 2nd round have been homeruns, they are all solid investments that have already exceeded their draft position.
The Knicks haven’t pulled off any major trades for big name players, but have made solid ones.
- Derrick Rose trade – turned Dennis Smith Jr. (a bust) and a late 2nd round pick into one of the better players on the roster and a great veteran leader. The Knicks won this trade handily even though Rose has been hurt most of this season.
- Cam Reddish trade – turned Kevin Knox (another bust) and a protected late 1st round pick that the Knicks don’t need into a promising player that fits a need. Reddish’s potential is scary, he looks like he can be some version of Paul George. If you were going to create the ideal Small Forward in a lab, it would look like Reddish. He just pops off the T.V. screen when he is on the court. Cam is the dynamic wing the Knicks need to compliment RJ Barrett. Right before he got hurt Reddish looked like he was finally figuring it out by committing himself to playing better defense. If Reddish does finally figures it out, the Knicks will have two lottery picks from 2019 draft as franchise cornerstones, that would set New York up to be a contender for the next decade.
- Russell Westbrook, the trade that didn’t happen. Last season MSG Network’s own Alan Hahn was pushing for the Knicks to trade for Russell Westbrook. Imagine if the Knicks would were stuck with 3 years of Westbrook’s contract? The Isiah Thomas/Steve Mills’ Knicks would have made the same mistake LeBron James and the Lakers made. Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make!
Speaking about moves that weren’t made. How many Knick fans regret not matching Charlotte’s offer of 4yrs/$120M for Gordon Hayward in 2020?
While Evan Fournier and Alec Burks haven’t been great, they are both serviceable vets that many contending teams would want. Hayward is still a good player, but missed 28 games last season and has missed 21 games and counting this season. No way Hayward would have made the Knicks better now or in the future when they will really be ready to compete.
But Burks and Fournier do fit the Knicks’ timeline. Net season, Burks will be an expiring contract and Fournier will only have two seasons left on his deal. Fournier’s deal is going to look better next season when the salary cap is projected to increase by $9M and the luxury tax threshold by $11M.
This summer can’t come soon enough. The good news is that the Knicks will have the cap flexibility to sign Jaylen Brunson and trade for Zion Williamson, if the Pelicans make him available. The Knicks could also be a suitor for Damian Lillard if Portland decides to make him available as well. Below are some other players the Knicks could go after in free agency:
Free Agency 2022
- DeAndre Ayton (restricted)
- Miles Bridges (restricted)
- Jaylen Brunson (unrestricted)
- Colin Sexton (restricted)
The bottom line is that this summer 2022 and next (2023) is when the Knicks will be able to reap the rewards of all the little successes they are have stacked up. The reality is that it takes 4-5 seasons of good decisions in order to build a championship team. That is why all Knick fans need to relax and “Trust The Process” !!