The Knicks’ offseason has been filled with plenty of question marks and ups and downs. The drama surrounding Carmelo Anthony and the respective trade talks surrounding a potential deal has dominated the team’s summer agenda.
After firing Phil Jackson, New York hired Scott Perry to become the team’s new General Manager. In his short time in Sacramento, Perry had a solid NBA Draft in selecting De’Aaron Fox and acquiring picks that became Justin Jackson and Harry Giles. He also added George Hill, Vince Carter, and Zach Randolph via free agency. The Knicks are hoping he can replicate similar success in the Big Apple.
With opening night less than two months away, let’s take a look at the status of Perry’s new squad heading into the 2017-18 season.
Perry still has his work cut out for him. Anthony holds many of the cards when it comes to his situation and where he might end up next. He has a no-trade clause in his contract, along with an $8 million trade kicker, which makes it difficult for the Knicks to find a trade partner with the right assets and a desirable destination for Anthony. The Cavaliers previously emerged as an early suitor, but it appears Anthony’s sights are only set for Houston at this point.
With New York’s primary focus now developing their young players, it may be Anthony’s best decision to waive his no-trade clause and give himself the best opportunity to win a championship elsewhere.
It’s clear the Knicks are in the midst of a youth movement. President Steve Mills discussed the team’s revamped priorities at Perry’s press conference. Anthony’s name has been conveniently left out time and time again.
“Our plan to become more youthful and athletic is underway with 22-year-old Kristaps Porzingis, the return of Tim Hardaway Jr., 25, Willy Hernangómez, 23, and with the debut of our 1st round draft pick, Frank Ntilikina, just 19,” Mills said on the MSG Blog.
With Porzingis leading this movement, this team is ready to embrace this movement. In his two seasons in New York, he has shown why they call him a basketball unicorn with his ability to stretch the floor and block shots.
One thing that he has focused on this offseason is adding muscle to his 7’3” frame. By adding more muscle, the Knicks are hoping the young stud will be able to hold his own against some of the top centers in the league. With Jeff Hornacek looking to run three guard line-ups, it’s expected that Porzingis will see some time at the center position.
In addition, Porzingis will need to show that he can stay healthy for the entire season. He played 72 games during his rookie season, but slowed down as the season went on. The big man also missed 16 games last season.
After averaging averaged 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game during his sophomore campaign, Hornacek and Co. are hoping Porzingis can take another step forward and get more involved on the offensive end while possibly averaging 20-plus points a game.
“That’s his next step and growth as a player — be able to handle some of that,’’ Hornacek told NBA.com. “He’s going to have to take that next step of just taking over. He’s probably ready for that.’’
Even after committing $72 million to Joakim Noah back in 2016, he’ll seemingly have a less of a role with the team due to injury and regression. With Noah missing the first twelve games due to suspension, Hernangomez will have an opportunity to secure the starting center position. At this point in his career, Noah is more suitable in the second unit.
When Coach Hornacek was with the Phoenix Suns, he emphasized a fast-paced, uptempo offense. With the coach’s use of guards, it will be intriguing to see how he incorporates his three guard line-up with Porzingis at the center position.
As the roster takes shape, it looks like the Knicks will struggle next season. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has the group finishing with 30.5 wins and No. 12 in the Eastern Conference. With a team that’s looking to build around it’s young core, the projections are justified. On the bright side, the organization has the potential to be good in the long term.