The New York Knicks offseason has just commenced with the draft lottery, netting New York the fourth overall pick, and this summer will be one of the biggest in the history of the franchise, if not the biggest.
Phil Jackson only has four players secured next season and the NBA free agency period will commence at 12:00 am on July 1st. This period will most definitely change the course of the team for years to come. With only four players under contract that leaves the Knicks with eleven open roster spots and approximately $28 million to spend after subtracting the Knicks’ newest rookie’s contract.
But, just because the Knicks are in this position does not mean that they have to go all-out and become ultra aggressive this summer. Phil Jackson and his front office counterparts should build for the future this summer – draft the franchise cornerstone, acquire some second round draft picks and sign good, solid players (second and third tier free agents).
1. Build From the Ground up
The Knicks have no other draft picks this year other than their lottery pick, but you would expect that Jackson will attempt to buy his way into the second. Everybody is talking about the talent at the top of the draft but in the second round there are many prospects who could pan out and be solid NBA players.
The other great aspect about second rounders, from the Knicks perspective it would be, is that they need not to be signed. Like New York did with Thanasis Antetokounmpo last year, players can play for the Knicks NBA Development League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks but they can also be sent overseas.
In this years draft there is an abundance of international talent that is set to go in the second round and again, like the Knicks did last year with Louis Labeyrie (57th overall pick), they can keep players where they are and let them develop.
We all know that the Knicks have made an absolute meal of retaining draft picks over the past decade. The key to building a contender is building from the ground up and in this case the ground is the draft.
New York has other young talent in Tim Hardaway Jr, Cleanthony Early and Langston Galloway and adding to that would only benefit the franchise going forward. Basically, the Knicks shouldn’t be hastily running around trying to deal their draft pick for a big name, who may not pan out, if it slips. Jackson also shouldn’t be in a hurry to fill up the roster with older players, rather those fresh out of college, as the Knicks championship run will not be in the next two to three seasons.
All you have to do is take a look at Golden State, they built their core out of draft picks which then led to them attracting players in the upper echelon of the NBA. Chicago, Cleveland, Memphis and Portland all somewhat fit into that as well.
2. Not as Good as it Once Was
Two years ago the 2015 free agency class was heralded as once of the greatest ever but as time gone on it has gotten less and less attractive. The appointment of Phil Jackson and the implementation of the triangle has contributed to this, but none the less it’s just not living up to its hype.
Rajon Rondo was on the Knicks radar for an extended period of time but especially over the course of the past year he is one player to steer clear of – labeled un-coachable, terrible in the locker room, poor attitude and a shot temper.
Kevin Love was arguably the best power forward in the league but his never ending complaining attitude made him less attractive – not pleased by the amount of touches and doesn’t like to be the second or third fiddle. How would he play with Carmelo Anthony? There were even very quiet murmurs that Roy Hibbert would be Big Apple bound but his production has evaporated over the past season and a half.
There are other superstars available like LaMarcus Aldridge and Marc Gasol but with the Knicks seventeen win season, New York isn’t the most attractive free agent destination. There is no point in settling and overpaying players who haven’t quite made it and gotten over the hump.
3. There’s Always Next Year
It’s crystal clear that 2016 free agency will change the course of the entire league. With the new television deal the salary cap will sky-rocket and leaving extra money in reserve can do nothing but good for the New York Knicks. The depth of that class is no doubt the deepest in NBA history, it is littered with un-restricted free agents and there are countless players with player options and you’d expect them to all opt out in order to secure a huge deal!
The Knicks desperately need help in the front court and in 2016 there are many, many options for the Knicks to take a serious look at. They aren’t necessarily superstars but players who strengths’ are defense, rebounding, and shot blocking – Noah, Nene, Hickson, Horford, Hill, Mozgov and the list goes on.
2016 is superior to 2015.
4. Teams Win Championships, Not Individuals
It’s stamped into the NBA history books, teams win rings, individuals win games. The Knicks are unlikely to land superstars come July but they have the ability to sign solid role players who can contribute in many ways. New York should use this summer as a platform for 2016, Jackson can build a solid team in the months ahead that will complete and make the playoffs (hopefully) without braking the bank. By creating a solid team free agents in years to come will be able to see that if they subbed themselves into the situation the team would be able to travel further and further.
The triangle offense is a team-first system that preaches ball movement and by signing players who can help and be successful in this system will make the Knicks a better team overall. Sure, the Knicks could go out and overpay decent players this summer leaving no room to add players who can really help this team. Go back one year ago, the San Antonio Spurs showed the entire world the definition of the word ‘team’. Coach Pop’s team went up against the Heat who may have had three superstars but had no supporting cast.
Build a platform this summer, complete the pyramid next year.
5. Let Them Blossom
The Knicks will be selecting the franchise corner stone for the years to come and it’s proven that rookies who get around 25+ minutes per night will pan out and be much better for you. They will mistakes in the process but they’ll also grow which is the most important thing. It would be a waste of a pick if New York went and signed a starting calibre player at the same position as it would stunt the rookies growth. growth.
Whoever the Knicks draft, giving them high minutes would allow for them to develop into a solid player after a year in which would mean that New York wouldn’t have to go fishing and spend big bucks to get a player at the given position. It effects the cap somewhat.
A second round hypothetical – If Phil Jackson manages to get into the early second round giving a player like that a shot could be good fortune for the Knicks – no harm, no foul. If they pan out, great, if they don’t, oh well. Who knows, the Knicks could find a diamond in the rough.
Give ’em the limelight, they’ll grow. Overshadow them, they’ll wither.
The Knicks don’t have to go out all guns blazing this summer but rather slow it down and make smart, calculated moves that would benefit the team for future years. The Knicks won’t be going on a championship next season, build the platform this year and complete the jump in the sky-rocketing summer of 2016.