The New York Knicks, a supposed sleeping giant in the NBA, are forever a few moves away from competence. It is a never ending cycle of ho-hum moves made by an owner who is as known for his equally awful musical exploits as he is his passe approach to running the franchise.
And yet, with Kristaps Porzingis on the roster and a quality head coach in David Fizdale hired, there is finally hope for the hopeless. While it can be argued that the Knicks were more in a coma the last few decades, as opposed to the assumed sleeping giant, there’s sincere reason to be optimistic.
Even better? Whispers of possibly obtaining Kyrie Irving in the near-future don’t seem as implausible as these best-case scenarios usually do for the franchise.
Realistic or not, fair or not, for years before Fizdale was hired, whenever a star player was rumored to be headed to the Big Apple, most people understood that it was only a whisper of a dream conjured up by those yearning for a world where the Knicks would be relevant. Now, however, the goal of obtaining someone as talented Kyrie Irving feels tangible.
That leads to an obvious question: How can the New York Knicks lure Kyrie Irving to The Mecca?
3. Aim For 2019
No one yet knows what awaits Irving with the Boston Celtics. There are rumors hitting the mean streets of social media, suggesting Danny Ainge might try to parlay Irving’s talents into other, younger assets. That, possibly, the window for Boston will stay forever open because Ainge is constantly ahead of the curve.
Couple that with Irving not wanting to yet sign an extension due to how his salary would be far better if he waited a year to do so, and there’s really no rush for the Knicks to get involved.
Let’s not forget that the Knicks, who have a good 2018 NBA Draft pick, are currently in no position to negotiate in trade talks with the Celtics — at least if they prefer not to get swindled.
With only a few solid assets of their own to move, the Knicks would have to offer a one-sided deal in the Celtics’ favor trade to snag Irving this offseason. Allowing things to more naturally play out, while letting the natural tanking process play out next season due to Porzingis’ injury, is the headier play.
2. The Natural Tank Progression
We just mentioned it in passing, but this is as important a part of eventually landing Irving as any other.
Porzingis is expected to miss a large portion of next season. Without him, it is highly probable the Knicks will be one of the worse teams in the entire NBA. That’s not a slight on New York, as few teams can lose their best player and move forward without negative consequence.
Thing is, and while it doesn’t need to approach a Trust The Process level of tanking, the Knicks’ likely bad fortunes in the 2018-19 season could have positive long-term ramifications. No. For real. Think of how the San Antonio Spurs landed Tim Duncan thanks, in large part, due to injury.
In theory, it allows Kristaps a full year (if he smartly decides to just take it off) to rest and recuperate while the Knicks position themselves to have the best pick as possible in the 2019 NBA Draft — an extra asset that could be used to either acquire Irving or make it more alluring for him to want to be in New York.
Obviously, if you’re a fan of the team, this isn’t a great pitch — that you’re going to be purposely awful for yet another entire season. At the same time, if any franchise’s fanbase in the NBA is used to incompetence, purposeful or otherwise, it is this one.
1. The Actual Options To Land Irving
The aforementioned ‘moves’ aren’t really moves at all, but only position the Knicks to hopefully land Kyrie Irving in 2019. None of it answers how New York actually gets him, though.
There are really only a few ways in hoping to do so, with the idea of Irving never signing his extension and coming to New York as a free agent being unrealistic given to the loot he’d have to leave on the table.
So, uh, what do the Knicks do?
In theory, and these are all just theories, depending on who they draft this season and how the ping-pong ball gods treat the Knicks after next season’s suggested tanking, New York should have a bevy of assets at its disposal. We’re talking a probable high-end lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Frankie Smokes, the 2018 NBA Draft pick (whoever that ends up being), etc.
Plus, the Knicks will have a better idea who Frank Ntilikina is. Is he a future important piece or an asset that will be alluring enough to be used as trade bait? He’s a polarizing player as is right now, with the Knicks not even seeming to know what to make of him, so a year from now they should be in a much better position to evaluate his future with the franchise.
The obvious downfall of this is that other teams will also have more information on him. If things go south for him next season, his value on the trade market will become far less.
The best case scenario calls for Irving to be on the trade market, with whatever team he is on next season (remember, it might not be Boston) willing to take lower value for him in fear that he’s already eyeing an exit. Depending on what team he’s on will dictate what pieces the Knicks would have to move to obtain him. The better the team, the more likely they’ll want players who can help immediately. The worse, the younger the assets (and/or expiring contracts).
By tanking, allowing Kristaps to get healthy and gaining more information on players already on their roster, the Knicks will put themselves in the best position as possible to land Kyrie Irving. It certainly doesn’t mean the franchise will land him, but if they want a shot at doing so, New York has to position itself where it is plausible.
Now, to be blunt, not a single word sputtered here mentions whether or not the NBA’s favorite conspiracy theorist would actually wanted to come to New York, but life is a flat-circle and that’s an entirely different conversation anyway.
Regardless, for the time being, hope for the hopeless and all that jazz… it isn’t a terrible spot to be in.