Knicks Offseason: A “New” New York Approach?

Dec 21, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks general manager Phil Jackson watches during the third quarter against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden. The Magic defeated the Knicks 107-99. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 21, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks general manager Phil Jackson watches during the third quarter against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden. The Magic defeated the Knicks 107-99. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Knicks don’t need to retool or rebuild. It’s all about seeing the process through.

Going into the summer of 2016, there seems to be a great divide within the fan base in New York. Some fans think that with a front court of Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Robin Lopez, the New York Knicks have a solid core and are only a few players (ahem, guards) from contending.

Many others though feel that we’ve been saying this for years and need to blow it up and re-build from scratch—the RIGHT way.

This approach, of course, includes trading Carmelo Anthony. I think the best approach is somewhere in the middle, and let me explain why.

Let’s first discuss the rebuilding approach. The narrative with so many seems to be, “Trade Melo, we’ll never get a ring with him,” or, “Anthony and Porzingis are on totally different timelines, it’s not going to work out.”

The first flaw in that approach is what exactly will you be getting in return? Do you think we can swap him for a superstar such as Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, or LeBron James? No. The Knicks are not going to get an equal value in return; they’re just not.

A common trade scenario would be a player of lesser value and a few draft picks. Do New Yorkers really want to trade away a superstar for a role player and the hope of landing a future star? With our draft history?

The Knicks were 0-10 this past season without Anthony. He’s not James or Curry, but he’s a bonafide star, and the Knicks are undoubtedly better with him on the team.

The argument, of course, is that the Knicks are not winning a championship so they should trade him while he still has value. Value, of course, meaning what New York could fetch in return via trade.

Correct, the Knicks could get more in return now than if they were to wait another couple of years until he is on the steep decline. In reality though, he has a no-trade clause, and New York is not going to get anything in return for him that will instantly make it a championship contender.

The value people seem to miss is the value he has to the young star, Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis has stated repeatedly how helpful Anthony has been to his development both on and off the court. Anthony might not be the greatest leader, but he has taken this kid under his wings and seems almost content to make him the next Superstar of New York.

In the 2015-2016 season, with Porzingis and Anthony on the floor, the Knicks had a net rating of +4.3. With Porzingis on the court without Anthony, New York’s net rating is -11.3 (Per Ian Begley of ESPN).

So for everyone ready to throw Anthony out the door, take a moment to realize they are actually a potent duo and have a few years of Melo’s prime to grow together and become even more dangerous. Simply put, they fit.

The current roster isn’t actually as bad as it may seem. We’ve already discussed the front court strength, so that leads us to the oft inept guard situation. Sure New York needs some upgrades, but it’s not as bad as it’s made out to be.

Let’s delve more into re-tooling the roster.

Jerian Grant showed flashes of promise at the end of last year. He only managed to average 5.6 points, 2.3 assists, 1.9 boards and 0.7 steals in 16.6 minutes per game, but he looked a lot better at the end of the season when finally given a more prominent role. Langston Galloway is a solid spark off the bench, as well, and the arrival of Jeff Hornacek as coach will only elevate these two, especially Grant.

Another possible gem is the largely under the radar pick up of Tony Wroten from Philadelphia. He is raw and is coming off an injury, but he has the talent and athleticism to thrive in this league under the right circumstances. This is the type of pickup that could pay large dividends.

Hornacek is known for getting the most out of point guards, coming from Phoenix where he groomed Isaiah Thomas, Goran Dragic, and Eric Bledsoe. By picking up a few a few more solid pieces, New York can make a large jump this upcoming season (Think Playoffs!!).

This is also why the Knicks shouldn’t go crazy in Free Agency. They have money, but so do a lot of other teams this year. There’s only going to be a couple of game-changing free agents (Durant, Mike Conley, Nicolas Batum). Aside from that, New York shouldn’t break the bank just because it has the cap space to do so.

The 2017 Free Agency class is even more impressive, so if New York can’t get the players it wants, it should just stand PAT and go after smaller acquisitions and one-year deals.

So I’m sure by now you’re thinking, “So which approach is best?” The answer is neither. New York needs to see the gray are for once and realize there is no instant fix. It shouldn’t blow the team up and throw Anthony away just because he’s not going to win a ring this year.

It also shouldn’t put all of its hopes into landing every big free agent in hopes of instantly becoming great. It’s probably not going to happen.

The Knicks need to take their cues from teams such as the San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, and Oklahoma City Thunder. Yes those are a list of the top teams, but they’re also franchises that largely built their teams from the ground up. They drafted their own players. They got guys on the upswing of their careers. They developed their own stars.

Sure, they also acquired some solid additions through free agency, but that’s not how they became great.

The Knicks don’t have any draft picks (though that could change if reports are true and they’re able to purchase a late first or early second-rounder), but they do have solid talent in Anthony, Porzingis and Lopez. New York also has young talent in Grant and Wroten, and has some cap space.

The Knicks should use that space wisely though. Quit chasing pipe dreams and go after the glue guys. The solid defenders, the hustlers, the guys who are still looking to make a name for themselves. New York doesn’t need to rebuild or re-tool. It simply needs to build this team the right way—one step at a time.

must read: Under the radar sharpshooters to target in free agency

Let’s for once not focus on what New York doesn’t have, but what it does. It’s not a very “New York” approach, but maybe that’s why it just may actually work.