New York Knicks fans should feel good about the direction of the franchise.
The New York Knicks are at it again, starting a new reboot with an overhauled management team led by Leon Rose, their 7th team president in the last 20 years, who is about to hire the franchise’s 11th head coach during that same period.
Why should Knick fans expect things to go right this time?
The pessimism of the fan based has been earned—rumors did just break about the team possibly hiring Jason Kidd as head coach. But as someone who considers themselves a pragmatic Knick fan, I am here to tell you that this time might actually be different.
Below are the 4 reasons why this isn’t the same old Knicks with new faces.
1. Front Office Super Team
The first reason is the Knicks are not solely relying on one big name coach or executive to be the savior, for a change.
Leon Rose is doing what Knick fans have been asking the franchise to do for years: hire the best people possible.
While the Knicks can’t leverage their financial advantage when it comes to players on the court because of the salary cap, they can when it comes to the personnel off the court.
Rose has hired one the most respected talent evaluators in the game to run the draft by stealing Walt Perrin from the Utah Jazz. He then hired 26-year-old scouting prodigy Alex Kline from the New Orleans Pelicans. He got Frank Zanin from the Oklahoma City Thunder to oversee pro scouting. For the Vice President of Basketball & Strategic Planning, he hired the best capologist in the game, Brock Aller. And let’s not forget the other member of the strategy team, Sean MacLean, a Wharton MBA graduate that specializes in analytics.
Last but not least is William Wesley aka “World Wide Wes” who should help Leon Rose with free agency. Instead of just hoping that the bright lights of Madison Square Garden will lure a star free agent, the recently-appointed Knicks president has set up the Knicks to compete in all three fronts of player acquisition: draft, trades and free agency.
2. No Baggage for a change
Also, unlike the previous attempted reboots, this management team is not inheriting a mess.
The Knicks have one of the best cap situations in the league. Aside from Joakim Noah’s stretched contract, which counts as $6.4MM per season until 2021-22, there are no bad contracts on the books. Julius Randle’s contract is not great, but it is actually valuable for facilitating a trade for an established veteran as it is only guaranteed for $4MM in the 2021-22 season.
The Knicks not only have all of their first round picks for a change, they actually have seven over the next four years, plus Detroit’s 2nd round pick in 2021, which is expected to be very high in a great draft.
3. Young Foundational Pieces
While the Knicks lack a true superstar, they have two players in RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson that have All-Star potential. They are, at the very least, two good starters on rookie deals.
Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox are still young and can possibly breakout next season. Of course, there is also this year’s lottery pick which has a 27.6% chance of landing in the top 3.
4. Market Conditions
The 4th and final reason things are looking up for the Knicks is market based. It has been a disastrous season economically for the NBA—first, the rift with China; second, the global pandemic. To make matters worse, most teams are not expected to have any cap space this offseason and might actually be over the cap if it decreases dramatically.
These unprecedented circumstances can provide the Knicks an unexpected competitive advantage as they are the only team that has both the cap space and the economic strength to be buyers at a time when most teams might have to be sellers.