The Knicks are widely known for their dysfunction as a franchise, notorious for being one of most poorly run organizations in all of the NBA. That said, it’s safe to say the Phoenix Suns are giving them a run for their money. Following an 0-3 start to the season and two of the more lopsided losses in NBA history, head coach Earl Watson and three of his assistants, Nate Bjorkgren, Mehmet Okur, and Jason Fraser, have been given the boot. Former NBA head coach Jay Triano (interim) and Tyrone Corbin will remain on the staff.
A mere hour before Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted out his eventual report, talented Suns guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted out the following:
Bledsoe’s message is clear. The only question is whether his tweet led to Watson’s ousting, or if this was simply in reaction to him being given the news of the coach’s departure.
Why should any of this make a difference to the Knicks? As New York attempted to move Carmelo Anthony this summer, Bledsoe was a primary subject in many trade rumors that included Anthony leaving town in a three or four team deal. The guard’s been on the block for quite a while, and the Knicks should have interest. This squad is in desperate need of leadership at the point guard position, and Bledsoe experienced a decent amount of success playing for Jeff Hornacek in Phoenix.
Would the team have the assets necessary to pull off such a deal? Possibly. The Knicks have a log jam in their front court and Willy Hernangomez has quickly been discarded out of the rotation. After an impressive preseason, he’s played just four minutes through two games. He should still be considered part of the team’s young core, but New York hasn’t been known to exercise patience as often as they should. If they decide that Hernangomez is better off used as trade bait, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some sort of package featuring him, Courtney Lee, and/or Kyle O’Quinn eventually be enough to reel back in Bledsoe.
Hernangomez could turn out to be a special player, but his defensive woes are rather jarring at this point. It makes sense that Coach Hornacek prefers Enes Kanter, a more polished player who he coached as an assistant with the Utah Jazz. Again, it would be refreshing to see the Knicks stay the course and grow organically. Still, excess young talent can also be used as assets to reel in more valuable returns. Coach Hornacek was known to run smaller dual point guard lineups in Phoenix. A starting lineup featuring Frank Ntilikina, Bledsoe, Tim Hardaway Jr, Kristaps Porzingis, and Enes Kanter would still be relatively youthful, athletic, quick, and small. This look would be something Coach Hornacek is more accustomed to, featuring two players from his former teams. Much like Watson, the Knicks’ coach may also have a short leash. Acquiring Bledsoe and rolling out such a group would allow Hornacek to put his own stamp on things and, in turn, be properly evaluated. Defense be damned.
Still just 27 years old, Bledsoe is young and very talented. He just doesn’t appear to fit for the Suns at this particular stage in their rebuilding process. He could be a solid contributor for a skilled team. Though he’s battled injuries over the course of his career, Bledsoe logged a respectable 66 appearances last season. He also tallied career-highs in points (21.1), assists (6.3), and free-throw percentage (85%). Seemingly overshadowed by Devin Booker and the Suns’ other prospects, he needs to be let loose offensively and his former coach could give him the green light.
In addition to Watson, both Bjorkgren and Turner were holdovers from Coach Hornacek’s staff. At some point, be it either now or sometime in the offseason, the Knicks should aggressively pursue Bjorkgren to join their staff. Widely considered a rising star in coaching circles, Bjorkgren boasts an impressive resume, complete with a division title, Finals appearance, and player call-ups at the G League level.