Honest question: Are the New York Knicks any good? Easy answer: No! Well, thanks for reading. However, since an explanation is warranted, so let’s examine the state of the New York Knicks.
Front Office’s prudent decisions
The front office led by president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry appeared to finally get rid of meddlesome owner James Dolan. Dolan it appears, held a deep-seated resentment for Knicks fans which manifested itself in some of the most questionable decisions and tactics in modern pro-sports history. The Phil Jackson saga remains Exhibit A. Remember it was Jackson the team president and Mills was his general manager. Under those years, the Knicks drafted well but operated poorly during free agency. Think of players like Joakim Noah, and Derrick Rose alongside coaches like Derek Fisher and Jeff Hornacek. Thankfully that era is over and optimism can once again reign in Gotham.
With the hire of Perry, the Knicks seemed to switch its focus from win-now to player development. The G-League affiliate Westchester Knicks started rehabilitating careers of so-called washed up players like Trey Burke, and unknown quantities like Luke Kornet, Damyean Dotson, and Ron Baker.
Further to that, the Knicks were mentioned in the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes and passed on it. That is a tell-tale sign of growth.
The Fizdale hire
Few would deny, the genius in hiring David Fizdale as the new head coach. Fizdale, unceremoniously dumped by the Memphis Grizzlies last year was eager to return to the coaching ranks. An apostle of the Pat Riley doctrine, Fizdale made his name as an assistant coach on the Miami Heat under Erik Spoelstra. Fizdale is well-known and highly respected throughout NBA circles as a top development coach and disciplinarian. Again, think Riley doctrine.
After being unceremoniously dumped by the Memphis Grizzlies, Fizdale spent the remainder of last season diligently seeking another opportunity. The New York Knicks is that opportunity. The injury to star forward Kristaps Porzingis means there is no pressure on Fizdale to ‘win now’.
The Young Talent
The Knicks embarked on ‘tanking’ a few years so they’ve drafted in the high lottery the last three seasons. Those picks resulted in the aforementioned Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina, and Kevin Knox. Porzingis appears well on his way to being a star. Ntilikina has shown a propensity for top-tier defense however offensively he’s still quite raw. Knox may very well be the key to it all though, as his athleticism and potential.
There is also the reclamation project of Emmanuel Mudiay. That doesn’t appear to be going well, unfortunately. But 19-year-old rookie Mitchell Robinson and 2-way player Allonzo Trier continue to put joy and optimism into Knicks fans’ heart.
While 26-year shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. is the elder statesman alongside Lance Thomas, and Enes Kanter on the roster, the Knicks play hard. Unfortunately, playing hard is not a synonym for playing smart. This is reflected by the Knicks suffering woeful defeats to the Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls. The losing record is indicative of the team learning to win.
Hopefully no more delusions
The Knicks fans have been guilty of delusions of grandeur over the years. They were certain players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving want to play at the Mecca. Thus far, those have all been rebuffed. With the upcoming and impending free-agency period in 2019, the Knicks are expected to yet again take part in the free-agency sweepstakes. One hopes they don’t just go spending like years past. There are diamonds in the rough in New York, on this roster. Perry and Mills are hopefully more patient than previous times.
The Journey of 1000 miles
Make no mistake this Knicks team is not a playoff contender. Championships are years away. But there’s a saying, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. The New York Knicks fan base and stakeholders are hopeful, this early season is just that. This is a process, which is ticklish as the NBA is a results-oriented business. While the Knicks still are a terrible team with amazingly bad flaws, there’s still an abundance of hope. The reaction of all parties directly and indirectly involved will show how serious everyone is about embracing this rebuild. This is not a reload.