The New York Knicks have now finished the 2014-15 season with a record of 17 wins and 65 losses. That record places the Knicks twenty ninth out of thirty teams and gives them a 19.9% chance at obtaining the first overall selection in the 2015 NBA draft. But perhaps the best tool to mend some of the Knicks many problems. Free agency will make or break the Knicks ahead of the 2015-16 season.
In the past month or so there have been rumors that Detroit Pistons forward, Greg Monroe, signing with the Knicks “is as close as a done deal can get” according to NBC Sports. DeMarre Carroll, of the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks, stated that he would definitely consider signing with the Knicks due to the fact that New York has a lot to offer. But the question that arises is what does New York have to offer?
The NBA is a business. You could be cut, signed or traded at any given moment. What it boils down to is that there are three types of free agents, the winners, the money makers, the activity seeking. In recent times we’ve seen players take a decent cut in their pay to lineup with fellow superstars – the winners. We’ve seen people abandon winning teams chasing a big paycheck – the money makers. We’ve seen players move on, bouncing from team to team searching for consistent minutes – the activity seeking. Currently the Knicks have around $30 million in cap space and there’s a large chance that somebody will be offered far beyond what they are worth. When a mountain of cash is flashed in front of your face you don’t even have a second thought about saying yes. On a side note, this doesn’t just necessarily apply for stars, role players can be overpaid as well. Take Steve Novak and his four-year, $16 million contract as an example.
It’s New York City:
People forget that this is New York City, the greatest city on earth. It’s the biggest stage under the brightest lights. New York is often referred to as the Mecca of basketball and its home is the iconic Madison Square Garden. The opportunity to play in a such a huge market is something athletes from all sports relish. Usually those who wish to play in the larger markets such as Los Angles, Chicago and New York are the ones who can handle it. New York is the grandest stage and if there is one place where you want to make a name for yourself, it’s New York City.
New York is also a state that produces incredible players – Michael Jordan, Carmelo Anthony, Bob Cousy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bernard King to name a few – and it’s not rare for players wanting to come. Take Carmelo Anthony as a previous example and for the right here, right now look at Orlando Magic forward, Tobias Harris, who has a desire to return to New York.
The People Running the Show:
The captain of the ship is Phil Jackson, a 13x NBA champion and arguably the smartest person the grace the sport of basketball. Jackson is a guy who was able to gets stars to align. He managed to pair Dennis Rodman with Jordan and Pippen who had no love lost with the Worm from the late 1980s. Jackson also managed to get a highly motivated and hungry player in Kobe Bryant to play successfully alongside Shaquille O’Neal who was lazy and had no work ethic. Jackson was also able to get the best out of some of the games most heralded players in Jordan, Pippen, Bryant, and Rodman.
The Knicks also have arguably the greatest offensive threat in existence, Carmelo Anthony, running the show down on the hardwood. Carmelo Anthony has posted 26.3 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game, 3.1 assists per game and 1.2 steals per game for his Knicks career, of which one season included the scoring title. For the majority of those two seasons he received no help whatsoever and had to carry the entire team on his back. No wonder he has sore knees. Just imagine what Anthony could do with some help. Players will recognize that if they subbed themselves into the equation they could help and make this team flourish.
Derek Fisher, who is one of Phil Jackson’s many disciples, has gradually improved as the year has gone on. He has vastly improved since the beginning of the year. The fact that he recently was a player in the modernized league can also be appealing to free agents as Fisher would understand their problems and worries. Derek would also know how to solve those problems. He’ll be able to empathize with his players.
The Bigger Picture:
The Knicks may only won 17 games this season but earlier things were looking far beyond disastrous. The Knicks managed to win five games in the first half of the season but finished with a record of 12-29 in the second half of the year. Carmelo Anthony was also out for a majority of that time and coach Fisher was left with what was said to be a D-League standard team.
You might be wondering what’s so incredible about that record. The current roster and rotation is made up of what people call ‘scrubs’. For a bunch of players who hadn’t met a majority of their teammates until February have shown an extraordinary amount of chemistry. They have continued to grow and have formed a team, and it has not just been the rise of individuals, but the rise of a team.
They win together and they lose together, one triumphs, everyone triumphs, one fails, everyone fails. Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher have preached the importance of being a team and the current roster have done so. This team has risen and as a bunch of so called ‘scrubs’ they’ve come back from an 18 point deficit to win in double overtime, they’ve beaten the winner of their division, they’ve beaten the monster that is Russell Westbrook, they’ve beaten the defending champions and they’ve shown up the East leading Hawks.
All players like to remain in the basketball loop and that involves checking out other teams. You could bet your bottom dollar that players have noticed the un-drafted, called-up rookie who has started in 40 games averaging 12 points, 3.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game in Langston Galloway. Lou Amundson will also have been recognized. He has been a revelation for the Knicks posting 6 points, 6 rebounds and 1 block per game after bouncing around across the nation and not finding a home. Alexey Shved had some excitement coming into his rookie year following a good showing in the EuroLeague and 2012 Olympics but he’s faded into the darkness to only ascend at the perfect time.
The Knicks have made the headlines for being what the media call ‘bad’, throughout all of this turmoil these so called ‘no names’ have stood up and put their name on the map. As a team of ‘bums’, ‘scrubs’ and D-Leaguers they’ve shown great team spirit and determination which has resulted in wins over the good teams. If that isn’t a positive looking future for the hand the Knicks had been dealt then I don’t know what is. That’s the big picture.
The Possibility of Generating Movement:
We’ve all seen it in the past, one free agent commits to a team and the dominos start both toppling over for themselves and teams around them. Take LeBron James as an example in last years’ free agency. All It takes is for one move to be made. If one player signed with the Knicks to play with Carmelo Anthony and a lottery pick (or something more, if traded) under the tutelage of Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher, it’s likely that others would follow.
All you need is a shepard and then you’ll get your sheep.
Once again, you can take the offseason of the Cavaliers as a prime and reasonable example. Cleveland didn’t necessarily sign stars but players who slotted in nicely and helped the team win. It eventually led to Kevin Love forcing his way to the place they call ‘The Land’. Just remember, their story began with a one star and a draft pick.
“Honey, We Won the Lottery!”
The Knicks finished with the second worst record in the NBA and have a 19.9% chance of winning the draft lottery and New York can’t slide further than fifth.
Looks like New York isn’t that bad after all. We will just have to wait and see. Free agency begins on July 1st and contracts can be signed on July 10th.