The NBA has turned into a soap opera. The dominance of the Warriors for half a decade has diminished excitement on the court. So what has become the focus? Off the court drama such as player’s outfits, social media likes, and of course the big one — free agency. The Knicks recently clinched their fifth straight season with 50 or more losses. This season did not sneak up on anyone. New York was supposed to be bad, and had a master plan to bring in top-tier free agents along with the first pick in the NBA Draft. The only problem is that nothing is certain.
Earlier in the season, Pelicans star Anthony Davis to the Lakers was as sure as a tattoo. Los Angeles was ready to send a large quantity of their team over to New Orleans along with future draft picks. New Orleans turned down an offer of Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, and two first-round picks. The Lakers were also willing to take on the contract of Soloman Hill. Well, as we sit here in the beginning of March, Davis is still a Pelican.
The Lakers put all their eggs in one basket, and currently sit outside of the Western Conference playoff picture. Are the Knicks primed to make the same mistake? They sent Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas in a blockbuster deal at the end of January. This was a high risk, high reward move that could come back to burn the Knickerbockers.
Boos rained down from the Barclays Center on June 25, 2015. No, the Nets were not playing. This was the night that the Knicks drafted a 19-year old kid out of Latvia. Porzingis walked up the stairs in his questionable all-burgundy suit, and shook hands with Commissioner Adam Silver. Just like that, he was a New York Knick.
Porzingis’ rookie season has Knicks fans salivating. He was viewed as the savior, and face of the franchise. After his second season, Porzingis was a sure-fire star, and he solidified that notion in the beginning of year three. Porzingis played 48 games in 2017-2018 until all Knicks’ fans worst nightmare came true. Porzingis tore his ACL, and missed the rest of the season.
The saving grace of his injury was that Porzingis would return to join a star free agent, and the top pick in the draft. January 31, 2019 ended that dream for good. After Porzingis voiced his displeasure in a meeting with the front office, the Knicks shipped him off to Dallas. There were many moving parts in this deal. The bottom line is that the Knicks freed up cap space to add two max contracts in free agency.
Some liked the deal, some did not. That’s sports, and more importantly it’s New York. The Mavericks’ fan base rejoiced at the thought of pairing Porzingis and Luka Doncic. So, what does this mean for the Knicks? It means, like the Lakers, they have put all their eggs in one basket.
The dream in New York is to add Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Zion Williamson. Every team in the league would like to do that. The odds are slim. How about adding Kevin Durant, R.J. Barrett, and Kemba Walker? Still good, more realistic, but was it worth trading Porzingis? The common denominator in all plans is Kevin Durant.
Durant set the NBA on fire when he decided to join the Warriors in 2016. He joined a franchise that was coming off the best regular season in history, and already had a championship under their belt. This is Durant’s third year in Oakland. He will be trying to get his third ring, and third Finals’ MVP trophy. He will highlight this summer’s free agency class. Everything players do nowadays is looked at under a microscope. This is especially true for Durant.
Here are a few examples. Durant’s brother has been on social media hinting that the superstar will be leaving. Thirty Five Ventures, Durant’s company, has moved their office to New York City. The Warriors made some uncomfortable jokes during their championship parade. Finally, Draymond Green acknowledged rumors when he and Durant went though a rough patch during the beginning of the season.
Like Davis to Los Angeles, nothing is certain. Knicks fans love to speculate and fantasize. Steve Mills and Scott Perry better have a big plan for the summer. Their jobs could be on the line here.
Justifying the Mess That is the New York Knicks
The Knicks have been bad for awhile. This is a New York team that has not seen a championship since the days of Walt “Clyde” Frazier. The Porzingis trade struck a nerve for fans because they had loyalty to the Latvia. Why? Who knows. Porzingis was a member of the Knicks for three seasons, and did not bring anything except hope to the team. He never won anything, championships or awards. A few put back dunks, and a dream was all that he had.
In New York, that is not good enough. Mills and Perry see a chance, and they are going for it. This free agent class features Durant, Irving, Kawhi Leonard, and Kemba Walker. The Knicks have one of the worst records in the league which will guarantee them one of the top picks. Right now, the Knicks have some young pieces who could be valuable players off the bench for years to come.
This is similar to the Lakers, and completely different at the same time. The Knicks are clearly going for it. The Porzingis trade cannot be judged fairly until after the free agency period is complete. If Durant and Irving come to New York, will the trade still be criticized? No, quite the opposite. If the Knicks do not sign a big time player, the Porzingis trade will go down as one of the biggest blunders ever.
The franchise is aware, and that is the gamble that they decided to take. For now, the Knicks main focus is on this summer’s free agency. They can either look like geniuses, or they can look like the Lakers. It makes you think, the front office must feel like someone is coming if they decided to mortgage their future. July 1 is the day to have marked on your calendar. It could be the best day New York has seen since drafting Patrick Ewing, or it could be the day that the Knicks are run out of town.