It’s unusual for the New York Knicks not to be mentioned in an NBA survey, but it’s a testament to the culture constructed under Leon Rose. It’s no longer easy to take digs at the Knicks, so in this case, they weren’t mentioned at all.
ESPN conducted a poll with responses from 15 scouts, coaches, and executives, with questions ranging from who will win MVP to predicting where Damian Lillard and James Harden will be at the start of the 2023-24 season. In the 12 questions, New York wasn’t brought up once.
The Knicks had a quiet offseason and don’t have big-name players like Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, or Victor Wembanyama. New York could put itself in the spotlight with a superstar trade, but that time hasn’t come yet. Until then, fans should enjoy that their favorite team is flying under the radar.
Meanwhile, the Raptors and Sixers were mentioned in ESPN’s survey for the wrong reasons.
Knicks’ division rivals critiqued for poor offseasons in ESPN poll
When asked which team has had the worst offseason, the Raptors came in first with five votes, with the Sixers on their heels with four votes.
Toronto was rightfully criticized for letting Fred VanVleet walk for nothing in free agency, but on the other hand, Houston overpaid for the 29-year-old. Masai Ujiri’s reluctance at the trade deadline prevented the Raptors from getting something in return, but Ujiri could turn Toronto’s offseason around if he trades for Damian Lillard.
If Portland doesn’t trade Lillard before the season starts, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him continue to play for the team leading up to the deadline. Philadelphia won’t get as lucky with James Harden, who’s notorious for going to extreme measures to get what he wants.
The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported on Aug. 12 that Harden plans to not attend training camp (subscription required), so the situation will only get spicier. Daryl Morey and Harden will have a battle to see who’s the stubbornest, and while that’ll be plenty entertaining, Joel Embiid’s future is at stake.
The pressure is on in Philadelphia, much more so than in Toronto. In a perfect New York world, the Raptors wouldn’t trade for Lillard, and the Sixers would continue to unravel, forcing Embiid to request a trade.