Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg (NY Post)
Written by: David Sheets
At the start of the season last October, it felt like the Knicks had matured as an NBA franchise. It felt as though the Knicks front office, and fan base alike, had moved on from the impatient philosophies of the past that had left the hands of the franchise tied financially for too long.
There appeared to be a different vibe emanating from the Garden with Scott Perry as the new general manager. It was a cool vibe, one that preached patience and had fans excited for the fresh garden of young budding flora and fauna. The franchise was beginning to understand that a garden does not grow overnight. Sure, you can buy some fancy flowers that are already grown and stick them under some soil, but the best gardens come from those who water and tend to their seeds from the start. Otherwise, your garden will dry out.
Especially when that garden sees little natural sunlight due to light pollution, smog, and general smugness from its owner.
Yet, the revamped front office led by Scott Perry and Steve Mills assured us Knicks fans that, this time around, they will not “skip steps” in the grueling process of rebuilding. Despite an ongoing title drought lasting 46 years and counting, Knicks fans were all-in on the painful process that comes with rebuilding and growing the right way. They were excited for competence within the front office, no matter what that entailed.
Perry and Mills planted themselves a nice little garden, and they hired David Fizdale to water it. Low and behold, it began to grow. The team was losing, but the buds were showing signs of life. Young studs like Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, and Allonzo Trier emerged as promising young assets to complement all-star forward Kristaps Porzingis once he returned from a torn ACL. Then, like a ton of bricks, midway through the season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski struck fans with a series of tweets detailing the rapidly deteriorating relationship between the unicorn and the Knicks front office that would eventually lead to him being traded to the Dallas Mavericks.
After taking a hot shower to wash away the shock of no longer having a unicorn of their own, Knicks fans warmed up to the departure of the Latvian star. They understood that, while he possessed a ton of talent, it wasn’t up to them. This specific unicorn wanted out. Fans understood that because of his injury history, Kristaps Porzingis was not going to return any time soon and may have trouble ever reaching his potential when he does. So, fans begrudgingly embraced the trade and looked towards the future. With this embrace, however, came a changing narrative. The expectations for the future all of a sudden became immediate.
As part of the deal, the same front office that had just preached patience in rebuilding just traded away enough cap space to free up two max salary slots in a stacked free agent year. The same garden that was growing with time, care, and attention were now giving hints of past restless behavior.
The expectations changed instantly, and the national sports media landscape began to salivate. The idea of some combination of soon-to-be-available players like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Anthony Davis teaming up to play in the Garden was now possible. Our eyes are, once again, distracted by the shiny toy. It’s like the show Storage Wars. The thrill of finding out what’s behind the door by bidding on it is enticing. Especially when you think there might be valuables like jewelry and rings inside.
I’m a big fan of Carmelo Anthony. He brought stretches of box-office basketball back to the Mecca. He was the spice in an otherwise bland garden. The idea of winning a ring by pairing Carmelo alongside Amar’e Stoudemire, at the time, felt within reach. Many reports currently indicate that the Knicks are very interested in trading for Anthony Davis as part of a broader plan to lure Kevin Durant to the Garden.
In many ways, pairing this lethal duo of stars in New York this offseason in order to skip steps and win a championship now feels possible. It also feels very, very wrong. It feels a lot like the Carmelo Anthony trade.
We won’t know until we buy our way into that door, though, right? What if there are jewelry and rings inside? Not only will we not know until we buy it, but we won’t know until we trade all of our young talent and draft picks to find out.
I’m starting to feel lightheaded.
The new “we will not skip steps” Knicks are once again interested in trading valuable assets for a disgruntled superstar, who is contractually obligated to play one more year for a franchise eager to fleece whatever team is desperate enough to oblige.
This strategy seems foolproof.
The notion of trading away a young core of promising talent and valuable draft picks for a one-two punch of all-stars in the frontcourt in Madison Square Garden sounds unstoppable! It would surely bring a title.
What could possibly go wrong with pairing together two ball-dominant, scoring forwards who aren’t known for their playmaking abilities? Surely a duo like this would create championship basketball.
On second thought, I think I need some sleep. I just got Déjà vu and I think I know why.