Whether this works or not, the New York Knicks will win the offseason. Our Ira Barasch explains his stance.
With the recent rumor and expectation that Joakim Noah would be signing with the New York Knicks for $18 million a year, and the news of New York’s interest in oft-injured guard Eric Gordon, the narrative from the casual sports fan remains the same: “How could the Knicks give so many injury-prone players a contract?! This team is going to suck!”
Now, while that’s a bit of an exaggeration, it is a bit concerning. Noah only played 29 games last season, and Gordon played in 45. Gordon hasn’t played 65 games in a season since his first season in 2008-09, and Noah is a question mark at best to come back to form of what he once was.
Together with Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony, the injury concerns on this team would apply to most of the major players. How could the Knicks commit to such a team? It must be them being the same kind of team they’ve always been.
Lets take a step back for a second
The potential line up of Noah and Porzingis switching off at the 5 and 4, Melo at the 3, Gordon at the 2, and Rose at the 1 is an injury-prone team. Yet, this is a win-win scenario
IF IT DOESN’T WORK
Let’s say this turns out like everyone says it will. The entire season is filled with injuries to Rose, Noah, Gordon, and Anthony. Each players misses significant time and the Knicks miss the playoffs.
That’s actually not a bad situation.
If you’re going to pick a year to fall apart, this is the year. The upcoming draft is LOADED with talent. The salary cap is still rising the next two seasons, making the contracts a team gives easier to either move, or work around. With ‘Melo, Porzingis, and this pick, the Knicks are still in a great position going forward.
They would still be a desirable destination for potential free agents, and they would have a good foundation with which to build around.
IF IT DOES WORK
This is the more intriguing scenario. Let’s say, somehow, someway, this team works. Eric Gordon was a restricted free agent in 2012 and was offered a max deal from the Phoenix Suns. While New Orleans matched his deal, he publicly stated that he wanted to play for Phoenix in a more up-tempo offense. Who did the Knicks just happen to hire? Jeff Hornacek, who runs and up-tempo offense.
If Gordon could stay healthy, and yes that’s a big if, this team could potentially be explosive with his scoring ability.
If Rose can show the same—or at least close to the same—production he showed after the All-Star Break last season, that helps even more. Rose, for the first time in a while, will be coming into an offseason not working back from an injury.
He would have an entire preseason and training camp to shake off the rust. His ability to play the pick-and-roll, as well as having one of the most talented teams he’s ever had around him, could lead to a comeback season the likes of which are rarely seen in sports today.
Noah would be able to give a fast-paced team something they are most times lacking; a defensive presence. Again working under the assumption that the team stays healthy, he can not only provide a consistent defensive mindset, but also his incredible average of 9.4 rebounds per game over his career.
Together, with a teammate he knows and trusts in Rose, there would be no need to wait for them to develop chemistry.
Now together with an already established elite scorer in Carmelo Anthony, and with Kristaps Porzingis on the rise, this team could be posed for a run. That’s especially true when applying a Western style offense to a stagnant Eastern Conference.
Building a team of veterans is usually a risky move, but building around a player of Porzingis’ caliber is almost unheard of.
The Final Verdict
There’s obviously a lot that can go wrong in a season for any team. Yet, this season is really a no-risk situation for the Knicks. If everything goes wrong, then they can get a great young player in next year’s draft, making themselves a desirable destination with two young talents and a veteran superstar.
On the flip side, if they do really well, they make themselves a threat in the East and can go for the gold in a conference that largely depends on a slower game.
Regardless of how this season turns out, the Knicks are making the smartest move possible.