These were the two ways this season could have gone:
- Knicks young talent — Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, and Allonzo Trier — who all looked so good in summer league — would all vie for the All Rookie 1st or 2nd team, and Knicks with good coaching and improved defense, would knock on the door of .500 in February. Kristaps Porzingis would return, and Knicks would make run at playoffs — building the “culture of winning” that coach David Fizdale spoke about, and attract a free agent — Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving — in the off season.
- Knicks young talent — see the above — all between 19 and 22 yrs old at start of season — would be too young and get taken advantage of by the 27-yr olds in the league; Knicks would lose a lot and start Tanking in January. Porzingis would sit out the year so Knicks could properly tank.
And so now we know — scenario 2 has played out, with a twist. Knicks management, like the management before it (Phil Jackson), felt Porzingis would never be “the guy” — too small an ass to develop a post presence — and have traded him for a max cap space slot, Dennis Smith Jr, and a couple of #1 picks. It most assuredly looks like the Knicks will attract Kevin Durant AND Kyrie Irving in the off season. And possibly make a trade for Anthony Davis. The hope is that they also keep their young stud Mitchell Robinson.
The Hard Part
The All Star game is now played 3/4 the way thru the season. With only 24 games left, the Knicks are 3 games ahead of Chicago for bottom-3 position, 8 games ahead of Atlanta, and 13 ahead of Memphis. If Chicago loses all the rest of their games, Knicks must go 2-22 in last 24 to maintain bottom-3 position. If Chicago goes, say 3-21, Knicks can go 5-19.
With Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Mario Hezonja returning after the break — the Knicks need to figure out who is playing and how much. Dennis Smith Jr, Allonzo Trier, and Kadeem Allen are all playing well as is John Jenkins and Damyean Dotson. How many guards? Who plays?
Mitchell Robinson is a beast getting better every day and people on twitter are starting to compare him to … Bill Russell. If Robinson learns a post-up watch out. The Knicks need Kevin Knox to play well down the stretch — so he shows himself as a potential star scoring forward going forward with the Knicks, or becomes trade bait in a trade for Anthony Davis.
Knicks have to hope all of this happens — Robinson continues to play like a beast, Knox plays well these last 24 games, and the guards do their thing — and at the same time LOSE LOSE LOSE.
Note: The Knicks signed Jenkins to a 2-year contract this week, and a sportswriter on twitter theorized it was to develop trade pieces — from a salary perspective — to get Anthony Davis.
All Star Weekend
Basketball is boring when both teams don’t play defense. I’d rather watch a game in the schoolyard than this year’s Futures game. That said Kevin Knox 11 pts on 5-9, 3 rebounds in 16 min.
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) February 16, 2019
Dennis Smith Jr made the finals of the Slam Dunk event. He missed a bunch of attempts in the final round and finished second. He had one terrific dunk in the second-to-final round — below:
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) February 17, 2019
One anticipates this was the last year of this superstar-vs-superstar All Star game. This year’s game was extremely boring — maybe because there were no Knicks in it. But still, as boring as East vs West was, at least you had East vs West.