In recent years, one position has become the prime need for every NBA team. Ironically, the needed stability of that position has eluded the Knicks since the beginning of the millennium: the point guard position. New York tends to go through point guards like wildfire, and though this era in basketball history has been regarded as the “Golden Era” of point guards, such a Manifest Destiny has not found its way to Madison Square Garden. With the Draft lottery on the horizon, and a surplus of $50 million in cap space, here are the options the Knicks may take a look at to fix perhaps their main on-court issue.
A New BALL Boy:
The obvious option, which requires some prayer and ping pong balls is through the draft. Knicks fans can pray that the ball finally appears in their favor, after not winning a first pick since the format’s conception back in 1985. Ironically, the lone acquisition of the coveted first pick led to the drafting of Patrick Ewing, in an era where the center position was king of the basketball world. Now in the time of the “point God”, landing the first pick would likely lead to the selection of LaMelo Ball, who (despite bringing the baggage of his outspoken father) is clearly the number one prospect available. Ball would thrive as a backcourt mate to last year’s pick R.J. Barrett, and with Ball’s incredible shooting range, a pick and roll offense between him and Mitchell Robinson would open up the floor, and possibly give the Knicks an offensive identity for the first time in years. This would also give the Knicks the ability to use their free agent money elsewhere, perhaps looking to acquire a veteran backup to mentor Ball. Players such as D.J. Augustine and one time Knick Langston Galloway, would be viable options to help Ball’s development.
Shooting for the Star:
In the likelihood that the draft position doesn’t pan out, the Knicks could look to acquire a point guard through trade, as the team does have young assets and multiple draft picks in their pocket. More specifically this could lead to the acquisition of Chris Paul, who has been in Knicks rumors as far back as the days or Carmelo Anthony. Paul was initially offered to the Knicks last offseason by the Rockets, and the Knicks, rightfully at the time, declined. Paul showed flashes of his brilliance in his time at Houston, but was very injury prone in his two year stint. However, when Paul was eventually traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, not only did he remain healthy, he re-claimed his status as one of the elite point guards in the game, as he pushed OKC into a middle-of-the-pack playoff position.
Yet Another Band-Aid:
There is no question, a trade for Paul may pay off, but taking gambles on older stars has never worked out for the Knicks. The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again, expecting a different outcome, and while acquiring Paul would do wonders for a young roster in desperate need of veteran leadership, such a large contract would handcuff the team’s flexibility for the long term, and the Knicks have been there and done that (..cough..cough..Joakim Noah). Thus, the most realistic option would likely be to acquire someone in free agency. There are some free agent point guards available that can offer some temporary stability at the position. Goran Dragic from the Miami Heat is a solid option that comes to mind, being a former all-star and always a threat on the offensive side of the court. In particular, his 39.7% shooting from the three point line would be a huge upgrade, considering the Knicks have been one the bottom feeders of the league shooting from downtown. However, Dragic has the worst defensive rating on Miami’s roster. Additionally, Dragic being 33 years old would be seen as another temporary placeholder for the Knicks.
The One That Can’t Go Wrong…(probably):
Given that the rest of their options either have question marks or require an immense amount of luck, the best and most realistic option available for the Knicks is attempting to sign Fred VanVleet. The undrafted rising star is already an NBA champion with the Toronto Raptors, and has drastically improved every year in the league, averaging career highs in points and assists this season. Starting alongside all-star point guard Kyle Lowery has had a dramatic effect on VanVleet’s improvement, making him a candidate for Most Improved Player. If his continued success is any indication, VanVleet seems ready to be the main floor general for his own squad, and with championship experience, he could be the answer to all the Knicks past point guard problems.
One thing is certain, no matter how the Knicks do it, a solid starting point guard needs to be acquired for them to start seeing success. The point guard position has always been at the forefront of the team’s success in their entire history, from superstar hall of famers like Walt Clyde Frazier, to the solid and reliable players like Derek Harper and Charlie Ward. The key for any long term on court success is finding stability at the point guard position, and the Knicks have an opportunity to begin that stability this summer. If they can acquire someone that can be there for years to come, the team may finally be digging their way out of the doldrums of the NBA.