The New York Knicks have a chance to execute a legitimate rebuild, but the handling of Kristaps Porzingis and his ACL injury will determine the direction.
Kristaps Porzingis, the New York Knicks’ believed franchise cornerstone, has been sidelined with a torn ACL. He could potentially miss a significant portion of the upcoming season. While getting Porzingis back to an elite level of play is a top priority for the Knicks, keeping him out of this year’s lineup may improve the Knicks’ long-term success.
When discussing the blueprint for a rebuild in today’s NBA, the most successful example is the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers underwent years of losing in order to build a playoff contender through high draft selections.
The team’s front office was able to avoid the temptations of instant gratification, and can now be optimistic about the future of the franchise.
The Knicks have earned a reputation as an organization so desperate to maximize the city’s market, that they sacrifice potential building blocks for big-name players. Yet, it seems the team has finally reached a point where they have no choice but to build for the future.
The Knicks have young developing talent and a front office that seems to have embraced the necessary steps to building a team from the ground up.
A plan for success seems to be taking shape for New York. After the Summer League performances by Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, the team’s recent draft picks, legitimate hope is justifiable within New York Knicks fans.
There seems to be just one roadblock stopping the Knicks from embarking on a “process” of their own: Kristaps Porzingis.
There was a time in Philidelphia when the fans yearned to see a young star who could both control the paint and shoot from deep; a time when the term unicorn was not used. Yet, it was clear the big man was different from the conventional skillset of a dominant center.
Joel Embiid would take the court 31 times in his delayed rookie year, every game a window into the heights of his potential.
The Sixers’ cautious approach to the handling of Embiid’s injuries caused the team to win just 38 of 164 games in his first two seasons on the roster. Philadelphia was first overall in both the 2016 and 2017 NBA Drafts, and are now packed with young talent.
Approaching the 2018-19 season, they appear to be a top contender in the Eastern Conference.
Porzingis hasn’t yet taken the Knicks to the postseason, yet the decision to let him play this season could be the difference between a top-three pick, and the team selecting a prospect in the late lottery.
Watching The Unicorn soar from one end of the Garden to the other, following up a monster block with a majestic finish, is enough to make Knicks fans ignore that his play is likely hurting the team’s lottery standing.
The New York Knicks must learn from the pain of Philadelphia, and be willing to sacrifice the Porzingis of today for a future that doesn’t revolve around ping pong balls.
Hopefully, the Knicks’ front office will be willing to do so.