New York Knicks: Your imagination’s role in any hope for the future

New York Knicks Krisraps Porzingis Kevin Durant (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
New York Knicks Krisraps Porzingis Kevin Durant (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks’ blockbuster trade may make no sense from certain angles, but that could all change if Kevin Durant wants it to.

On Thursday afternoon, I went to pick up my daughter at school. I rarely get the chance, and when I do, I ignore my phone. Aside from the fact that there’s no service in the school, I try to remember that sometimes there are things more important than NBA trade deadline updates, whether with the New York Knicks or other teams (but rarely).

When we emerged from the school, my phone started buzzing at an unreal rate. More than 100 messages, updates, texts, etc…

Just like that, Kristaps Porzingis, along with Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke, had been traded to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, Dennis Smith Jr, and the rights to their 2021 and 2023 1st round draft picks.

….there I was, the world spinning around me like I was patient zero.

I’ve never been so perplexed.

“Daddy, what happened in your phone?”

“They traded Porzingis…”

“For what?”

“…for nothing.”

While I was being a bit dramatic, before more information could come to light, it certainly seemed like the Knicks had traded away a committed piece of the puzzle in order to make room for an imaginary and certainly uncommitted piece of the puzzle.

And after recent news, apparently Knick fans weren’t the only ones in the dark, with reports that other NBA front offices were shocked to hear he was traded, and that they didn’t even know he was available.

Now, with several days to stew, many Knick fans see this for what it is: tossing away a bird in the hand (with an injury history), for two in the bush (both also with injury histories).

There is no question that if the Knicks do not end up rostering Kevin Durant this summer, this will had been one of the worst trades in an already impressively bad history of bad trades.

Take that for data.

Sure, Durant recently reported his very close relationship with DeAndre Jordan.

And sure, the rumors of Durant leaving the Warriors (regardless of this season’s outcome) make lots of sense.

But the painful truth remains a constant factor in what could be: the New York Knicks organization doesn’t know how to treat players with dignity, and that reputation is well known amongst the brotherhood.

While Zion Williamson may have smirked mockingly at his teammates when asked what he thought of potentially being a Knick next season, he probably doesn’t even fully realize the facts and fears that lie behind the jests and jeers made superficially.

The reputation alone is what made LeBron James take his talents to South Beach, and not the Big Apple back in 2010.

He didn’t want to join the long list of talents that have finished their Knick tenure in a contentious fashion.

And while pushing it all on the line for a decision that will likely be made only after hanging another banner in the Bay Area, (even if a wink was given to James Dolan), there is more than enough evidence to know that the Knicks kill careers.

So where do we go from here?

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It certainly wouldn’t shock anyone to see some combination of underwhelming free agents like Kemba Walker, Tobias Harris, or Jimmy Butler to sign in New York, keep the team in the playoffs for a few seasons before becoming frustrated and breaking bad with the orange and blue.

But if you could use your imagination: Kevin Durant signs with the New York Knicks, DeAndre Jordan takes a veterans minimum deal to play with his buddy, and take one more stab at the glory that evaded him as a Clipper.

Kyrie Irving signs on the dotted line to play for the team he grew up rooting for. It’s believable he will want to leave Boston, and he too wants to prove he can do what most think he can not.

From there, the rest of the market, whether via trading youth, picks, or anyone else, or signing talents through free agency, will be at the disposal of the Knicks.

And of course, by then, the Knicks will know their draft position and allow it to inform what type of third fiddle they sign. But one thing’s for sure: with very little committed money on the books, anything can happen from there.

Looking to the Celtics model (obvious flaws aside), there is a chance at boasting any combination of a tried and proven first line of studs, followed by a hungry second unit of lottery picks ready to eat.

This combination, the lineup, the veteran minimum signings, the free agents taking less money to play for a winning team, will all happen, just if Kevin Durant decides it will.

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It’s a lot to put on the line for a truly unknown factor. And if he doesn’t and it doesn’t happen… and especially if Kristaps Porzingis returns to form, joins with Luka Doncic and forms the next Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki combo, this trade will haunt Knick fans for many, many decades. But for now, just use your imagination.