This past off season was a historic one, shaking the NBA to its very core, with superstars swapping cities every few weeks. Many teams’ futures changed, for better or worse, with of 8 of last years All Stars putting on different jerseys this year. And with one of those stars being Knicks own Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks in this crazy offseason did not get much better– they got worse.
This may sound weird, because the Knicks did have a bunch of new personnel added to the roster, and yes, they did much better than they could have, however it is fair to say the talent is lacking, and they haven’t changed how their team will end up at the end of the 2017-2018 season.
New York’s finest will still be mid-bottom in the standings of a horrific eastern conference. However the Knicks did have a low-key roster shake up outside of the Melo trade, so let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly: Knicks offseason addition.
The phone buzzes and I get an alert saying you’ve traded Carmelo Anthony for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a CHI 2018 2nd Round Pick. To the casual fan, this is another classic Knicks blunder, however nothing could be further from the truth. Now, I am not saying it was an even trade that benefits the Knicks as much as the Thunder, of course they are getting All Star Carmelo Anthony, himself. However, if you look at the state the Knicks were in, the Knicks finally managed to hit the “reset” button with this trade.
With a budding core of Kristaps Porzingis (22), Tim Hardaway Jr (25), Willy Hernangomez (23), and Frank Ntilikina (19), you don’t want Anthony’s need for the ball and $27 million dollar contract eating away at your young players’ ball touches and team cap space.
At least the Knicks did get something in exchange for a departing All Star, something the Utah Jazz know nothing about. So, even if the return for Carmelo was not as much as one might like, the team finally dealt Anthony to the Thunder and picked up a good rebounder and offensive big man in Enes Kanter, a young sharpshooter in Doug McDermott and the likely 31st overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft.
The Knicks gave Restricted Free Agent Tim Hardaway Jr a whopping 4 year/$71 million contract this summer. I will admit, that I thought this was a bad move at first. However, with Carmelo Anthony traded and no one else with reliable scoring ability, the Knicks need a player who can put the ball in the basket, a Hardaway specialty. Now, regarding salary, the Knicks will not be title contenders for at least the next four years, and won’t really need that salary cap room to sign a big name free agent, and they are already in a hole they can’t get out of in Joakim Noah’s huge contract signed summer of 2016, so essentially their ability to bring in someone huge is weak.
Now for the bad: In saying how a team did poorly in an offseason has as much to do with what they did not do, with what they did do. And aside from drafting Frank Ntilikina out of France with the 8th overall pick, a player who is not a starting point guard right this second, the Knicks added absolutely zero talent at the point guard position.
Someone needs to tell them that adding quantity does not result in quality, at the point guard position. What do Ramon Sessions, Ron Baker, Jarrett Jack, and Trey Burke have in common? They were all signed by the New York Knicks to compete for a starting PG position in the NBA while Ntilikina is sidelined with injury. In the golden age of floor generals, Ron Baker or Ramon Sessions doesn’t cut for a starting lineup it when facing Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, or even any average offensive guard.
As for the second issue, not including Kristaps Porzingis who often plays the five, there are currently three capable players, if you do not count Joakim Noah, at the center position: Enes Kanter, Willy Hernangomez, and Kyle O’Quinn. As I have said, it should be a priority to get Hernangomez in a position to grow into an above average big man, and the tools are in fact there. However, right now he is splitting minutes with two older players who play the same position and have similar play styles. Trading one of these pieces should have been a priority to then fill the lack of talent voids at the point guard and small forward position.
I did not mention some departures from the Knicks, such as Derrick Rose, though overall it is safe to say that the pure offensive skill of this new roster is somewhat of a downgrade, given gaping holes at the point guard and small forward roles, and overall this team is slightly worse than that of last year.
Also, a large part of the offseason was drafting Frank Ntilikina, but I cannot label that pick as “good” or “bad” yet because he has barely played and will take years to know if this was a plus or minus. All of this being said, the Eastern Conference got even worse and I expect the Knicks to remain about where they were at last season. The offseason is a time period only devoting to improving your roster, and while the Knicks did not do this, they could have done a lot worse.