At the end of every NBA season there are many teams which, despite missing the playoffs, can look forward with a positive and reassuring outlook for the future. Whether these teams are incredibly young or old, the rebuilding process, while frustrating, can be progressive and encouraging. But what if you are a team that has been struggling for the better part of the last decade with a future so uncertain that optimism is the last emotion you feel? That is the case for the perpetually bad and woefully mismanaged New York Knicks.
As a die-hard fan, it is hard for me to admit this. The Knicks future is not only uncertain, but is plagued with questions about aging stars such as Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, and Joakim Noah. Finishing at a dismal 31-51, the only thing the Knicks have going for them is a first-round lottery pick in the
upcoming NBA Draft.
The biggest question of the off-season will be what to do with Carmelo Anthony. Having two years left on his massive contract, Melo has repeatedly claimed that he wants to be in New York. From an outsider’s perspective, this seems idiotic. Why would you want to be on a losing team towards the end of your prime? His window for winning a championship is closing, and yet he has been hesitant to waive his “no trade clause” in the past. He should just cut his losses and move on. From the Knicks’ perspective, it makes a lot of sense for them to get rid of Anthony. While he is a perennial all-star and a top offensive player in the league, the team must start building around budding star Kristaps Porzingis. Carmelo is in his mid 30s while Porzingis is in his early 20s; the primes of their careers simply do not line up. With a lottery pick, a young star and other players with potential such as Willy Hermangomez, the Knicks must start getting younger and rebuilding with youth, not aging stars.
I think this offseason is the most important one the Knicks have had in recent years. Clearly the experiment of Rose, Courtney Lee, Melo, Porzingis and Noah did not work. This offseason the Knicks should have three goals:
1) Trade Melo and try to get a first round pick out of it.
2) Do not re-sign Derrick Rose because he is simply too injury prone.
3) Accomplish a miracle and get rid of injured and unproductive Joakim Noah. Getting rid of Noah with his massive contract and coming off another shoulder surgery is going to be nearly impossible. Not a lot of teams will want him, but the Knicks must try.
With a little bit of lottery luck, the Knicks will be positioned to draft a point guard for the future. Whether that be Markelle Fultz (projected number one overall), Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox or Dennis Smith, the Knicks should draft one of these players.
Finally, we should avoid signing aging stars to ridiculous contracts and focus on young, quality players in free agency. Guys like Gordon Hayward and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are two examples of quality players who you could build a championship team around.
Ultimately, this is the offseason to determine the direction of the franchise for the next 10 years. Phil needs to work to bring in a max-contract player who will be able to change the dismal course the Knicks have been on for the
past four seasons.