The New York Knicks are on their way to redeeming themselves after years of losing.
When Phil Jackson was let go, Steve Mills became the new President of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks. He was looked upon by fans as being responsible for much of the team’s woes with Jackson.
Mills redeemed himself somewhat when he hired Scott Perry, his general manager. Together, they decided on the new direction and vision for the team. This is what Perry said about that vision in his blog post on the Official NY Knicks Blog.
"The Knicks team I envision is filled with players who lift one another’s game — a goal that animated the discussions I had with Knicks president Steve Mills both before and after I came aboard.Talent is crucial, but talent without will won’t get you far. If my team’s makeup is to attack all loose balls and win that battle more than our opponent, only then will I be satisfied. That’s the kind of club I want to construct, the sort of team I’d pay to watch.I want us to set a standard. I want us to put our stakes in the ground and say, “this is our culture.”"
During the introductory press conference of head coach David Fizdale, Perry reiterated that vision:
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"We are putting a team on the floor that is tough-minded, defensive oriented, that is gonna compete every single night, reflecting accountability on and off the basketball floor. A team that is going to play together on the offensive end, share the basketball and play with some pace."
The players love Fizdale and only speak highly of him. Emmanuel Mudiay came to the Knicks during Hornacek’s time. At the very same intro press conference, Fizdale told Mudiay, “We’re gonna get you right.” He did exactly that. Thus continuing the redemption process.
During the 2018-19 season, Mudiay developed into a very strong backup point guard, a definite sixth man. He is now that for the Utah Jazz. Mario Hezonja, the guy who slammed on Giannis Antetokounmpo, upped his game tremendously while a Knick, and is on his way to a playoff team in Portland. Noah Vonleh signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves and can only get better from playing there.
Before Fizdale and the Knicks, Mudiay was languishing on our bench, Hezonja was in Orlando and re-ignited his career in New York. Luke Kornet, a backup center, signed a two-year deal with Chicago. They were redeemed here and can continue to spread their wings to show themselves and the league what more they can do and be.
The new Knicks acquired in free agency are up to bat. Julius Randle, who is coming off his best season is a great fit for the team and he is very excited to work with Fizdale and his young teammates to get back to playoff contention. Bobby Portis, another offseason signing, told HoopsHype:
"I love being underrated, man. I’m an underdog. I say that every day. We’re the team that’s being counted out right now. People are looking past us. They’re talking about stars going to new teams and this and that, and that’s okay. Everybody on this team has a huge chip on their shoulder. We’re the guys who are always picked second. I think that’s going to make us close. Our practices are going to be top-notch; we’re all going to be competing and that’s going to make us better. We have a lot of dogs on this team, which will help us out as well. Collectively, we all have a chip on our shoulder – a log on our shoulder – so we’re going to go out there and play with an edge. I think that’s great for us."
Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock, Elfrid Payton, Taj Gibson and Wayne Ellington, all new editions, all have something to prove. To themselves, the league and to the fans they promised to play for this season. They are a defensive-minded group of guys, put in place to help teach and grow the younger players and to take the Knicks back to the playoffs
So far, the Knicks are keeping their promises. They have a strong group of players from the draft and free agency:
- Mitchell Robinson, most likely the new team leader who blocks anything near a basket.
- RJ Barrett, the third pick in the draft, possible NBA Rookie of the Year and potential superstar to be.
- Kevin Knox is stronger, bolder and more confident.
- Allonzo Trier, another with a log on his shoulder, a leader on the court and powerful player.
- Frank Nlikina who we hope to see back and ready to play.
- Damyean Dotson, who should continue to grow under the tutelage of such new veterans as Taj Gibson and Wayne Ellington.
- Dennis Smith Jr., New York’s resident high flyer and bulldog rounds out a remarkable team not to be counted out by any team in this league, including the super duo teams.
This is all good, all great, but a new team every year will not win championships. It’s time to get the New York Knicks to the playoffs and redeem themselves.