It’s cool to make fun of the Knicks. Everyone does it. It’s also just as easy to make fun of the Knicks, mainly because they hand over so much material that quite frankly it would be a crime against nature to not joke about their ownership, their lack of stars, lack of championships and just lack of anything positive.
But while they struck out on free agency as soon as it opened, July 1st wasn’t the day to laugh at the New York Knicks. If you’re a Nets fan, you have the right to laugh and make fun of them – you pipped them to their top two targets – but for the rest of the NBA? They have no reason to laugh. If anything, the Knicks front office should be praised for what they did.
For years, the Knicks FO have been lambasted for being ‘dumb’, throwing money at free agents who haven’t done enough to warrant the massive pay check they’re getting (see Jerome James for more reference) but on this occasion, it’s slightly different.
Take away the names involved in the FA market and picture this; you’ve got two max free agent spots open. You can offer those spots to a guy – let’s call him Player A – who is, without a shadow of the doubt, either the best or second best player in the NBA but is set to miss an entire season with an injury and no one is sure how he will recover, with many suggesting he won’t ever be the same again. Or you could offer the other spot to a guy – let’s call this one Player B – who blows hot and cold, is also undoubtedly very talented and potentially the best point guard in all of basketball, but shrugged responsibility of being the main man on the team and decided to leave when the going got tough, realising he had made a mistake by even joining that team in the first place.
What do you do?
On the face of it, this seems like madness and it seems like an incredible risk. Why spend near enough $150 million over four seasons for Player A, who will miss the first year of that deal and may not come back with the level of performance that he had before the injury, and on Player B, who may decide he doesn’t want to be the main man on a young team, realising just how difficult it can be and goodness knows what kind of drama follows that? With this look on the situation, it does appear that the Knicks made the right move. But when you attach the names to the situation, that’s what hurts fans the most.
It wasn’t about winning championships for the Knicks this offseason. They knew that it would take more than Kevin Durant – hobbled or not – and Kyrie Irving to deliver a ring to the Big Apple, but it was more about the sense of arrival, the sense that after all these years of suffering, being the butt of every NBA joke for the past two decades, the sense that New York City, in basketball terms, truly mattered again.
The Knicks are a huge entity and one of the biggest names in all of sports, but they haven’t had a true star probably since Carmelo Anthony. New York basketball mattered when he was there, and this was the first time since that New York City basketball was under the microscope. But what hurts most for Knicks fans isn’t the fact they didn’t land their two guys, it wasn’t the fact they traded their franchise star and horrible contracts for Dennis Smith Jr and picks (which was 100% the right decision because Kristaps Porzingis is yet to play basketball since his injury and he didn’t even want to resign with the Knicks anyway), but it was the fact they chose Brooklyn.
If KD and Kyrie had chosen the Clippers, no one would’ve batted an eyelid. But Brooklyn? That can’t happen? Rather, it shouldn’t happen.
New York will, for the foreseeable future, be a Knick city but this feels like a blow in the stomach. No one is talking about the Nets, no one is talking about buying Nets gear, they’re all talking about the Knicks and that sums up New York basketball. The Nets sign two of the best players in the league – although they’ve also signed two of the most unpredictable and weakest minds in the league and this offseason proved it – and yet, the conversation is dominated by the Knicks? Knicks city…
But while it’ll hurt now, and while it’s devastating now, it’s not disastrous tomorrow for the New York Knicks.
Yeah, they missed out on two top FA’s, so what? They’ve now got a really good, really well-rounded squad that will be much more competitive, will be able to nurture the young talent and make the Knicks competitive.
David Fizdale wanted that in his team and having two maxed out superstars surrounded by filler on the bench and in the other positions – I’m looking at you, Lakers – the Knicks have a team.
Not a team, but a team, one that will try its hardest to impress and impose itself onto the city and with these players on two year deals (Randle is on a three-year but the final year is team-option) the Knicks aren’t handicapped by a single player! It’s incredible to think that 1), the Knicks FO could pull this off and 2) the Knicks could be the butt of offseason jokes and still have a better squad than they would’ve had if they had gotten KD and Kyrie!
Now they have a good core of youngsters to build around and group of players who are essentially playing for their jobs in the future. It’s what Fizdale wanted and it’s what the Knicks have given him. Sure, they haven’t signed star names but names alone don’t win anything. Like earlier on during the first scenario. Take the names away from that situation and it looks totally different, and looking at it from that point of view, the Knicks have had a pretty decent offseason so far.