Knicks going all-in on ending championship drought should be met with applause

The New York Knicks haven't won a championship since 1973. It's time to stop worrying about the logistics of an effort to end the drought.
New York Knicks v Chicago Bulls
New York Knicks v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The New York Knicks haven't won a championship since 1973. Playing at The Mecca of Basketball, in a city that's as synonymous with the sport as any in the world, the Knicks have been unable to field a championship team in what's going on 52 years.

As Leon Rose pulls every string he can to orchestrate the end of the championship drought, Knicks fans should meet his efforts with nothing but applause.

New York last reached the NBA Finals in 1998-99, when Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell led the team up from the No. 8 seed to the cusp of greatness. Its most recent appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals was 1999-00, when that same duo nearly achieved immortality again.

For that matter, 2023-24 marked the first time in 11 seasons that the Knicks won at least 50 regular season games.

Suffice it to say, it's been difficult to find reasons to be excited about New York basketball over the past 25 years. Whether you believe in the curse that was placed upon the Knicks after they unceremoniously traded Patrick Ewing or simply see poor management, it's been a devastating experience.

That makes the 2024 offseason one that should have Knicks fans everywhere ecstatic about how aggressive Rose is being in building a true contender.

Knicks are trying to take the next step—and that comes with risk

The Knicks shocked the world by kickstarting the offseason with a massive trade for Brooklyn Nets swingman Mikal Bridges. The parameters of the deal could still be altered, but the core of it will see Bojan Bogdanovic, four unprotected first-round draft picks, one protected first-rounder, and a pick swap head one borough over.

It was a steep price to pay, but great teams take chances—even if the fear exists that they may not ultimately pay off.

In 2023-24, the Minnesota Timberwolves were vindicated after trading four first-round draft picks for Rudy Gobert. They took down the defending champion Denver Nuggets and reached the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2004, thus ending a 20-year drought.

The rival Pacers saw a similar outcome after giving up Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora, and three first-round draft picks for Pascal Siakam. Indiana reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2013-14, ending a 10-year drought of their own.

For that matter, the Dallas Mavericks gave up two first-round draft picks and a pick swap in deals that landed Daniel Gafford and PJ Washington.

After paying a similar price for Bridges, the Knicks will look to end a 25-year Conference Finals drought in 2024-25. They strengthened the odds of being able to do so by re-signing OG Anunoby to a monster five-year, $212.5 million contract.

Those two moves may have cost the Knicks dearly, but it's purely a reflection of the fact that the organization is no longer obsessed with star power when it can build something sustainable.

Changing The Culture Requires Calculated Risks

New York will enter the 2024-25 season with a roster that has one clear-cut intention: Dethroning the Boston Celtics. Boston won its championship with Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford spending time at the center position, yes, but it was a perimeter-heavy team.

With the likes of Jaylen Brown, Jrue Holiday, Jayson Tatum, and Derrick White leading the charge, Boston won 64 games and ended a 16-year championship drought.

Stop me if you're sensing a theme.

New York plans to counter that quartet of All-Star-level perimeter players with a surplus of quality talent. All-NBA point guard Jalen Brunson will lead a team with All-Defense honorees Anunoby and Bridges, and 2023-24 breakout performers Donte DiVincenzo and Josh Hart tirelessly working on both ends of the floor.

Changes could still be coming the Knicks' way, but rather than viewing their recent progress as something to fall back on, the team is being aggressive in maximizing their championship window.

That could blow up in Rose's face, as the long-term contracts and picks being traded carry inevitable risks. It could also result in New York putting the finishing touches on its most successful stretch in over a decade—if not longer.

It's understandable to be nervous about the chance of failure, but the fact that the Knicks are committing wholeheartedly to their vision instead of pivoting from it should bring a smile to fans' faces.

Those who lived through the 2010-11 season know exactly what the Knicks would've done under a different regime.