New York City has long been considered a basketball hotbed. Once a place that bred NBA players at an alarming rate, the five boroughs of New York are always in competition with each other for the rights to claim who’s better. In the NBA it’s no different as the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks actively engage in the battle for New York City.
Until recently, New York was a one team city. In many ways, it still is. However, that all changed in 2012 when the Nets moved to Brooklyn. Upon their arrival, the Nets boasted bold ambitions, such as owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s five-year plan to compete for a championship. Prokhorov told the YES Network, it was the “Five Year Plan of Vladimir Lenin.” Much like Lenin’s plan, this one failed as well. This misguided ideology led to the then General Manager Billy King‘s bet on the present. King got fleeced by his Boston Celtics counterpart Danny Ainge so badly that today the Nets are continuing to deal with the fallout.
Across the Brooklyn Bridge onto the island of Manhattan, where the New York Knicks are a staple. The Knicks play in the “Mecca” of Basketball, Madison Square Garden. Of course, the Knicks have been on the receiving end of seriously hard-times in recent history. To counteract the Nets new popularity in New York, the Knicks owner appointed former Knick Phil Jackson as the team’s President of Operation. Much like his Nets counterpart, Jackson’s reign was a train wreck. There was the signing of Joakim Noah, the trade for Derrick Rose (superteam) for their young players. Also, the firing of Mike Woodson, and replacing him with rookie Derek Fisher. Most importantly, Jackson over the last year decided it prudent to antagonize superstar forward Carmelo Anthony.
However, like King in Brooklyn, Jackson is also out from the Knicks. If one were to look at the job done by both men, one can reasonably argue that Jackson did a better job. Jackson led the Knicks to tank and as a result drafted young starlet Kristaps Porzingis. His front office team also developed and found serviceable players like Ron Baker, Lance Thomas, Willy Hernangomez, and even drafted Tim Hardaway Jr. Of course, the Noah, and Lee signings negated that. Not to mention trading away Jerami Grant and others to acquire Rose didn’t help.
King was much worse, however. After trading for Joe Johnson, King bet it all on acquiring ageing Celtics Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry. The price paid was steep, many rotation players but more importantly several first round draft picks. Return on this investment was immediate and negative. Garnett was unable to play back to back games. Pierce was magnificently awful. Terry proved to me nothing more than a mouthpiece. Added to that, franchise point guard Deron Williams was injury-prone and unhappy. Of course, King also hired a rookie coach in Jason Kidd, who left suddenly to join the Milwaukee Bucks.
Last season the Nets and Knicks split their contests. Both teams were equally horrific, however, optimism was evident in Brooklyn. The removal of King and the hire of Sean Marks proved inspired as he showed vision and leadership. Marks attacked this challenge with enthusiasm and though the team was losing, fans held the faith. In Manhattan things were different. Jackson and the Knicks parted ways but the members of the dysfunctional regime that predated Jackson remained. Steve Mills the General Manager under Jackson and President before Jackson signed the aforementioned Hardaway to a dubious contract offer-sheet. This happened while the team was in negotiations with ex- Cavs GM David Griffin. Of course, Griffin walked away. The Knicks instead hired Scott Perry.
Fast-forward to this week
Newly acquired Net D’Angelo Russell joined teammates Isaiah Whitehead and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson at the Dyckman Basketball Summer League. The Dyckman league is a consistent fixture during the New York’s summer. Located in Manhattan, this league often attracts NBA players. Last season’s tournament name was Kyle Anderson of the San Antonio Spurs.
In one game and on one night, Russell endeared himself to the New York basketball fraternity.
— Overtime (@overtime) August 10, 2017
The performance in this game galvanized what many fans suspected. The Brooklyn Nets have officially overtaken the New York Knicks as the team of the borough. Russell was a former second overall selection by the LA Lakers. His talent is unmistakable however he became expendable after the Lakers drafted UCLA sensation Lonzo Ball.
The Nets led by Sean Marks acquired Russell and Timofey Mozgov for Brook Lopez and a draft pick. Marks then traded for DeMarre Carroll and draft picks from the Toronto Raptors. Lastly, the Nets acquired Allen Crabbe from the Portland Trail Blazers in an apparent salary dump move. In short, Marks totally revamped the Nets with minimal assets at his disposal.
Kilpatrick is really on the come up. Working out with both KD and Steve Nash. Damn. pic.twitter.com/Kut2ahkEs4
— The PUP List (@ThePUPListBlog) August 9, 2017
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson represented the NBA and the Brooklyn Nets at the recently concluded NBA Africa game in Johannesburg, South Africa.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 5, 2017
Signs point upwards for the Nets, however the New York Knicks’ situation is different. This off-season has been one of turmoil and tumult for the Knicks beginning with starlet Kristaps Porzingis purposefully missing the exit meetings following the season. Porzingis was reportedly upset at the Knicks’ treatment of superstar Carmelo Anthony.
Following this debacle, the Knicks have been trying on and off to trade Anthony to the Houston Rockets (as per his wishes) but logistics are proving to be a headache. Steve Mills is back as the President of Basketball Operations, thus expanding the dysfunction that predated the Jackson era. The Knicks decided not to re-sign their development guru in Assistant Coach Josh Longstaff for reasons unknown. Rose is gone after an interesting season littered with questions. Noah’s millstone of a contract still remains, and his skills presumably continue to diminish in line with his health.
There is good news for the Knicks, however. Though he was not allowed to remove anyone from their posts in the Front Office, he had the freedom to make additions. To this end, Perry made a few additions. Gerald Madkins, Craig Robinson, Harold Ellis, Michael Arcieri, Fred Cofield were all brought in to bolster the fledgling organizational structure.
New York Knickerbockers announced today the hiring of front office personnel. pic.twitter.com/OHJyU5VJxw
— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) August 8, 2017
Free agents Ramon Sessions and Michael Beasley joined Ron Baker and rookie Dameyon Dotson as new signees for the Knicks. Lottery selection Frank Ntilikina‘s development is crucial to the Knicks’ resurgence.
The Battle for New York continues to rage with Brooklyn in the driver’s seat. Head Coach Kenny Atkinson is a New York native. He is joined by Kilpatrick and Whitehead in that regard. Whitehead, in particular, is a Brooklyn native from Coney Island. He was a superstar high school player in the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL). The closest player on the Knicks roster to Whitehead in that regard is Joakim Noah who grew up in Harlem. Anthony was born in Brooklyn but moved out as a child.
The 2017-18 season is an important one in the fight for basketball supremacy in New York City. Will Brooklyn continue its ascent? Can the Knicks finally rid itself of incompetence and right the ship? Thankfully October is only two months away.