No stars? No problem. These New York Knicks are somewhat back on track.
They say in a city like New York, it’s impossible to rebuild. Phil Jackson and the Knicks front office are rebuffing that statement completely. Coming off of a 17 win season, no team is going to be in a position to compete the very next season, and that stood true for the Knicks. Realistically, what superstar would want to sign for a team coming off of their worst season in franchise history?
That statement stood true as DeAndre Jordan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol and countless others barely considered New York as a destination. But, nevertheless, Jackson had a backup plan and thus far it has worked flawlessly (well, kind of). Thus far this offseason, Jackson has gotten Arron Afflalo, Robin Lopez, and Derrick Williams to commit to New York while also drafting what could be the best talent in the draft class in Kristaps Porzingis as well as trading for do-it-all guard Jerian Grant on draft night.
Yes, Marc Gasol ruled the Knicks out before free agency even started. Yes, LaMarcus Aldrige cancelled his meeting with the Knicks. Yes, Greg Monroe signed elsewhere. No, Jackson did not concede defeat.
As of right now, the Knicks have $3 million left in cap space and a depth chart likely looking a little something like this:
PG: Calderon, Grant
SG: Afflalo, Galloway, Ledo (not guaranteed deal)
SF: Williams, Early, Antetokounmpo (still to be signed, but likely to occur)
PF: Anthony, Porzingis
Yes, the Knicks still need a big man. Maybe they sign a defensive stopgap such as Bismack Biyombo with that $3 million, maybe they bring back Jordan Hill after his stint with the Los Angeles Lakers. No one knows what the future holds in terms of transactions, but as of right now, Jackson has begun a rebuilding project and put New York in a good position.
Just looking at this roster, Porzingis, Grant, Langsotn Galloway, Cleanthony Early, and Thanasis Antetokounmpo are all very solid prospects, and all hold the potential to be starters in the league, giving the Knicks a stronger youth core than they have had in the past.
Jackson has not build a contender overnight, and if anyone expected that, then you clearly don’t know how basketball works. Jackson used his draft positioning and assets to add two young potential starters to his roster, and then rationed out his $27 million in cap space on two very proven players in Afflalo and Lopez as well a risk in Williams, who might just need the triangle offense to resurrect his career.
In a mediocre Eastern Conference, this Knicks team has a shot to become a 30 win team and compete for the eighth spot and potentially squeak into the playoff picture. It’s the first step in the rebuilding process, and with Anthony locked up, and young talent on the roster, it only makes the process easier.
The Knicks have always been about trying to acquire superstars, striking out, and going to Plan B. Well, what if Plan B was the right way to go to preserve success as the longevity of the franchise. That is what Jackson is doing, and that is what the Knicks have needed ever since Patrick Ewing went to Seattle.
For all the criticism Jackson endures, he’s putting New York back in the picture and seasons such as last season were needed for progress. Jackson has a plan, we’re witnessing it, and in a few seasons, this Knicks team could be in a position to be competitive. I know this phrase is overused, but it applies here; Trust the process, there is a plan.