I consider myself a realist, but I do enjoy imagining potential opportunities as a Knicks fan. Every season, I say to myself, "this is the year we turn the new corner, it's time to compete!". Yet, I am sadly mistaken every time. This year, will it be the same disappointed feeling or will I have something to root for and be proud of?
The Knicks rumor mill is invigorating but it keeps me entertained and engaged, but ultimately just maks my sadness of being a miserable Knicks fans. The Knicks are always "involved" in all of these talks and throw their hat in the ring with every player, but then nothing comes to fruition. With James Dolan at the helm, the franchise is still expected to be an embarrassment. Hopefully new president, and agent extraordinaire Leon Rose, can change the tides of the New York Knicks.
The Knicks need to do a lot, and truly there are so many different directions they could go. I enjoyed their free agency strategy last year, after missing out on big names, sign reliable and hard-working vets to team-friendly short deals. There is no need to tank the cap space, and if you get lucky you can trade one of those guys (i.e. Marcus Morris) to a contender for draft capital and another expiring contract.
In my eyes, the only untouchables on that team are R.J Barrett and Mitchell Robinson. How can the Knicks transform from the laughing stock to the kings of New York? My thoughts in a comprehensive breakdown are laid out below.
Photo: Yahoo! Sports
The first thing we need to is to address the upcoming draft. It isn't the most bountiful group of players, but there are plenty of "diamonds in the rough" if you will. Over the past few months, I penned my thoughts on who I feel the Knicks should draft and who may be available at the 8th pick. I am bullish on Obi Toppin and it would be my dream to have him play in the Big Apple. Unless the Knicks trade up or miraculously the Bulls and Cavs said whiff on the opportunity, the Dayton star will likely be off the board.
Round 1 - No. 8 Overall Pick
This was a brutal draw for the rebuilding Knicks. Those around the Knicks are suggesting they try to "make a jump" and get into position for LaMelo Ball. I just don't think he is what the Knicks need to get involved with. If the Knicks do draft him, I'll welcome him with open arms, but for now, let's pivot away from this idea. As mentioned in my prior blogs, the Knicks seem to want to draft a Point Guard. I don't disagree, but I think they should draft the best available players, no matter the position. Listed are the players I believe are the best available, assuming Ball, Wiseman, Edwards, and Toppin are off the board.
Guards: Killian Hayes (France), Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State), Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama)
Forwards: Isaac Okoro (Auburn), Deni Avidja (Israel), Saddiq Bey (Villanova), Devin Vassell (FSU)
Centers: Onyeka Okongwu (USC)
After more research, I am liking what I see out of Tyrese Haliburton. I also think Issac Okoro is a formidable defender. College Basketball expert and Host of Big East Shootaround, John Fanta, felt the steal of the draft will be Saddiq Bey, and the Knicks should seriously consider him. In the end, I think they decide on Killian Hayes, based on who may be taken above them. Hayes has professional experience, playing ten games for the German team, Ratiopharm Ulm. In his time there, he put up an average of 17.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 39% 3PT all through 36 minutes a game. He has a nice size for a point guard, coming in at 6'4", and has shown nice defensive potential.
Photo: Harry Langer/DeFodi Images/Getty Images
Round 1 - No. 27th Overall Pick
I don't believe the Knicks will be holding onto this pick if they are trying to trade for Russell Westbrook, CP3, Victor Oladipo, or other marquee players. We will dive into these possibilities in the next section. If they don't make a big splash, I think their next option would be to package the two picks and move up. Like mentioned, the Knicks have a steady eye on the youngest Ball brother and may want to seek his services and move up. Again, if they move up they should draft Obi Toppin, but I'm just a blog writer, not a General Manager. If they do hold onto this pick, here are some players who may be available.
Guards: Cole Anthony (UNC), Tyrell Terry (Stanford) Cassius Winston (Michigan State), Josh Green (Arizona), RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers), Jaden McDaniels (Washington)
Forwards: Precious Achiuwa (Memphis), Desmond Bane (TCU)
Centers: Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke), Isiah Stewart (Washington)
I love Cole Anthony's potential, and I thoroughly enjoyed his high school and college play. If they don't draft a PG, trade for one, or find one in free agency, he should be their guy if available. It is hard to say who remains available this far down in the first round, so realistically the Knicks should draft the best available, not necessarily a specific position to fill. RJ Hamptons draft stock fell and he could be the Michael Porter Jr. of the draft. I don't think he falls to 27, but you never know. I think any of these listed players would be nice role players for the team.
Round 2 - No. 38th Overall Pick
Second-round picks are rarely All-Star talent. It would be awesome to find a Manu Ginobli, Marc Gasol, Nikola Jokic, or Draymond Green, but it really is just luck of the draw. The Knicks got absolutely lucky snagging Mitchell Robinson in the 2nd round, who has the potential to be one of the best bigs in the league. In terms of this year, there may be some sleepers
Guards: Theo Maledon (France), Malachi Flynn (San Diego State), Cassius Stanley (Duke), Devon Dotson (Kansas), Immanuel Quickley (Kentucky)
Forwards: Xavier Tillman (Michigan State), Jordan Nwora (Lousiville), Reggie Perry (Mississippi State)
Centers: Daniel Oturu (Minnesota), Killian Tillie (Gonzaga), Nick Richards (Kentucky)
Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Every year, the Knicks are always in the "mix" with players in the trade market. It never really pans out, but they put their respective feelers out there. If the Knicks want to make a splash and put the league on notice, they should shake things up and pursue some trade opportunities.
So what are the franchise's assets? Barrett and Robinson should be locked in as the cornerstones and not be moved. I also think that they should hold onto their higher first-round pick unless they move up in the draft.
Julius Randle is a solid role player who can produce for a team. The young trio of Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr., and Frank Ntilikina are all raw and unproven and could develop better in other systems. They also have a slew of draft capital in the near future, seven first-round picks over the next four drafts (including 2020).
What is nice about the Knicks is they have plenty of solid veterans with one-year contracts that will expire next year. If a team is looking to create more space for the future, and have a player who has fallen out of their mix, the Knicks should be the ones those teams converse with.
Russell Westbrook (Rockets)
New York is made for stars and Westbrook is who they should shoot for. The downside to Russell Westbrook is his massive contract, with three years and over $132 million remaining. New York does have enough cap space to absorb his contract, but should they? I truly think to be competitive and to attract more talent to the team, you need a solidified top player. The former MVP can be that guy. The Knicks should NOT overspend to acquire him. It is expected that the Rockets explore his trade options because quite frankly, they don't have the money. The Rockets owe around $118 million to only five players next season. Russ wants out and the Knicks want in.
Chris Paul (Thunder)
Unless CP3 is available on the cheaper side, I don't think the Knicks should follow through with this. I truly love CP3 and his style of play and leadership, I just don't think the timing is right for us anymore, and he should play for a team that could win him a ring now. The Thunder are a competitive team with plenty of talent, but also want to fully rebuild with their multitude of draft capital and cap space. There will be a bidding war for Paul, including teams like the Suns and Lakers. The Knicks should sit this one out unless the price is right
Victor Oladipo (Pacers)
Rumors came out that Oladipo "wanted out" but recently he came out saying he was "fully committed" to Indiana. He has one year remaining on his deal and it seems unlikely he would stay with the Pacers even with those comments. The former All-Star, although finds himself injured, averaged 14.5 points on 39.4 percent shooting this past season. The Pacers don't want another Paul George situation on their hands, so they may ship him off sooner rather than later.
Gordon Hayward (Player option - Celtics)
The Celtics have an interesting decision to make with Gordon Hayward. He isn't the player they expected but that is due to some injuries. Even with that being said, he is still one of the most consistent wings in the league, with plenty of upsides. He most likely will opt-in and seek a long term deal next offseason, so the C's might want to trade him. A New York-Boston trade is unlikely, but there have been weirder deals.
According to DailyKnicks by Fansided, "the Knicks can practically create between $42.4 – $47.8 million of cap space, depending on whether the cap remains flat at $109 million or adjusts to the pre-pandemic projection of $115 million".
All of this could change if they make a large trade. Looking at the free-agent market, it isn't the most eye-popping, and the Knicks aren't the most attractive destination, but a sales pitch and "Big Apple mindset" could sway people's decisions. Anthony Davis would be a dream, but that ship has long sailed away. After winning the chip with the Lakers, he is 99.9% returning back to LA. I also think Rajon Rondo remains with LeBron and the Lakers.
Fred VanVleet (Unrestricted - Raptors)
FVV has been linked to the Knicks for months, notably after his stellar performance in the 2019 NBA playoffs. VanVleet is the best available guard in the free-agent market and is seeking a massive pay raise for his service. He is a huge upgrade at the position and would be a great addition to the team. Vegas has the odds in the Knicks favors, so it will be interesting to see where he ends up.
Danilo Gallinari (Unrestricted - Thunder)
Hello, old friend. Gallinari was the 2008 6th round draft pick for New York, who officially joined the team in 2008 after some time spent in Italy. He was part of the trade package to Denver to bring in Carmelo Anthony, who now has rejuvenated his career while with the Clippers and the Thunder. I don't think anyone would dislike a reunion, and he could be a well-performing player on the team.
Photo: NBA / Getty Images
Marcus Morris (Unrestricted - Clippers)
Speaking of reunions, could Marcus Morris come back to New York? He loved playing here, and he was a phenomenal gritty teammate. Although unlikely, how cool would that have been to fleece the Clippers for a first-rounder and then having Morris return back to the Knicks?
Brandon Ingram (Restricted - Pelicans)
We now look at some restricted free agents, which are always hard to pry away but the Knicks should attempt if all other plans fizzle out. The 23-year-old All-Star will most definitely remain with the Pelicans, but if the Knicks want to make New Orleans uncomfortable, they should throw out an offer sheet.
Bodgan Bogdanovic (Restricted - Kings)
The same concept above goes to Bodgan. He is a consistent contributor and performed well with the Kings, but it is a weird fit for Sacramento. He could be a player that Knicks could fall back on and throw an offer sheet on the table if the thought comes to mind.
Kris Dunn (Restricted - Bulls)
The Providence Friar standout would be an awesome sight in the Knicks orange and blue. The Bulls have a ton of guards, and with the new coaching staff, he may be the odd man out. He didn't have the best success with Coach Thibbedeu in Minnesota, but the feelings may have faded out.
Photo: Bruce Schwartzman
Other Potential/Viable Options
- Demarcus Cousins (Unrestricted)
- Carmelo Anthony (Unrestricted - Trailblazers)
- Marc Gasol (Unrestricted - Raptors)
- Tristan Thompson (Unrestricted - Cavaliers)
- Nerlens Noel (Unrestricted - Thunder)
- Langston Galloway (Unrestricted - Pistons)
- Christian Wood (Unrestricted - Pistons)
- Joe Harris (Unrestricted - Nets)
- Davis Bertans (Unrestricted - Wizards)
- Glenn Robinson III (Unrestricted - 76ers)
All of the above concepts and ideas are just thoughts from a fan who dove deep into research. I love the Knicks, I grew up watching them while living in Queens. Carmelo Anthony is still my favorite player. The Knicks need to return to glory and let's hope 2020-2021 marks a new era.
There is still a lot of uncertainty and a lot of question marks. I don't perceive the Knicks to be a "dumpster fire" as others may look at them. They have a reputable coach, a new front office, young raw talent, and potential. The rebuild is taking place, and let's hope the Knicks get back on the winning side. It's a quick turnaround for the NBA, with the first action of the offseason happening this week.
NBA Draft: November 18th, 7 p.m. EST
Free Agency Begins: November 20th, 6 p.m. EST
Training Camp: December 1st
Start of the Season: December 22nd
Photo: Leon Rose / New York Knicks