The day-time soap opera that is the New York Knicks has not disappointed this off-season. Out of the front office for the bargain buy-out price of $24M is zen master and avid napper Phil Jackson. Gone from the hardwood for seemingly pennies on the dollar is the face of the franchise, Carmelo Anthony. With another lottery pick teaming up with the unicorn and no shortage of shots to go around, the youth (and Euro) movement has begun in NYC and the future starts now.
Tim Hardaway Jr. – The former/new Knicks shooting guard signed a BIG offer sheet as an RFA after a productive second half with the Atlanta Hawks. The Knicks are hoping that THJ can continue the progress he made under Mike Budenholzer and become a big time scorer and a capable defender.
Frank Ntilikina - With the number 8 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft the Knicks selected the now 19-year-old French point guard. Frank Nitty boasts great size and length for a point guard but with an air of mystery and concerns about game speed, his development will be crucial to the Knicks rebuilding timeline.
Enes Kanter/Doug McDermott - The aforementioned "pennies on the dollar" received in the Carmelo trade aren't likely to replace Melo's production but they are capable of being productive players. Kanter is an effective scorer, a bruiser on the offensive boards, and a sieve on defense. McDermott is a quality three point shooting threat looking to take advantage of his first chance at regular playing time.
Carmelo Anthony – During Me7o's 7 seasons with the organization there were some highs and a lot of lows. Melo was the victim of some bad supporting casts and an even worse front office. Due to their different timelines, the team and the player had to go their separate ways, with Melo joining a “super team” in OKC and the Knicks getting to work on developing their young core.
Phil Jackson - Some of the stories that have come out are flat out disturbing given the power this man had within the organization. The consensus from Knicks nation? Good riddance.
The Triangle Offense – Packed in Phil Jackson's tote bag as he left Madison Square Garden was the offense he used to win 11 rings and Derek Fisher used to win 17 games during the 2014-15 season. Players found the offense confusing and analysts questioned whether it was outdated considering the recent increase in 3 point shooting.
Best Case Scenario: 8 Seed
I know, this won't happen. The 76ers youth movement would have to fail and Detroit would have to blow up. If that happened, Porzingis makes a jump, THJ earns his money, and Ntilikina is more ready than people expect, the Knicks could make some noise.
"Worst" Case Scenario: 13th in the East
This seems much more realistic, and while finishing at the bottom of the East isn't fun, it could give the Knicks a chance to get a big time prospect in the draft. It's tough to imagine the Knicks being worse than more than two of Chicago, Indy, Atlanta, Brooklyn, and Orlando. If Porzingis struggles being the main guy, THJ doesn’t mesh, and Hornaceck can't figure out the dearth of point guards and the glut of bigs, the Knicks could struggle.
In my ideal world, the Knicks upgrade their offense and develop chemistry between Porzingis, THJ, and Ntilikina while losing enough games to get another piece in the draft.
Saddled with the mid-range heavy triangle last season, the Knicks were 21st in 3PA and 21st in 3P%. In his most successful season in Phoenix, Hornaceck's Suns got up and down the court and launched the 4th most 3s in the NBA. The Knicks' current roster has a lot of capable shooters and a lot of shots to go around after the losses of their two highest volume shooters, Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose. The obvious issue is that there is no one on the roster who projects to get the ball to the shooters. If the Knicks can get away from the traditional drive-and-dish mold and develop an offense dependent on player movement and ball movement, working in a couple interior threats to help space the floor, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Knicks have a good season shooting the ball.
That being said, a positive showing on offense seems unlikely to get the Knicks close to the postseason given their utter lack of defense. Newcomers Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott have occasionally been unable to find minutes due to their seeming indifference on the defensive end. THJ comes from one of the best defensive teams in the league, but keep in mind that the Hawks also made Kyle Korver look like a passable defender. Porzingis can protect the rim but struggles to stay in front of quicker players or maintain his position against stronger players. Add it all up and you have a lot of minus defenders to go along with a few solid, albeit unspectacular defenders and a coach who just last year questioned whether the team was even capable of playing defense. The good news is that the expectations are low and winning seems to be optional at this point so you just hope that the Knicks players put in effort on the defensive end and don’t develop any bad habits.
There are a lot of bad teams in the NBA and the Knicks are one of them. That being said, I don't think they are as bad as a lot of people expect. Given the roster overhaul since last season, there will likely be a very ugly start to the season as the players settle into new roles followed by steady improvement. There will be a few games this year when the Knicks will shoot the lights out to win games and a few games where they will accidentally beat other teams at the bottom of the standings, but ultimately their defense won't be enough to get them out of the lottery.