Can the Knicks make a realistic push for two disgruntled superstars?
The New York Knicks took a step in the right direction two weeks ago when they hired former Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale. Fizdale may not be Gregg Popovich right now, but he does bring a bit of stability to a head coaching position that has been a revolving door.
Next was the draft lottery, where the Knicks actually didn’t move down in the draft. They stayed put at the number nine spot, and as previously written could lead to a successful NBA player. However, this is the Knicks of course, so he could wind up being the next Frederic Weis.
The third step in a successful off-season is player evaluation and boosting your assets. While LeBron James is a pipe dream (we’ll get to that first) there are two very legitimate superstars that the Knicks could get their hands on if the right situation arises.
First, we’ll address the elephant in the room; Lebron James is not going to become a Knick. He will never be in New York for any reason other than to completely embarrass the Knicks at MSG. He is not going to be the savior of the franchise. There are many reasons why it makes no sense but here are just a few:
- Lebron is looking to win another championship. If he isn’t successful this year with a rag-tag group of players the last thing he’ll want to do is try to drag the Knicks through the first half of the season without Kristaps Porzingis
- The aura of playing for the Knicks, and in New York in general is gone. Lebron doesn’t need to play in New York because he’s already the most popular athlete in his sport. He has made his name in Cleveland, a smaller city, and Miami, one of the worst sports cities in the United States
- The money doesn’t add up. As stated before, Lebron is looking for another championship. If he is on a max deal with the Knicks, Kristaps Porzingis is still currently in the middle of his rookie contract. Porzingis is looking to get paid and if the Knicks throw all their money at Lebron they won’t have the capital to sign anyone else
Okay, now that we’re done with the ridiculous notion that Lebron will come to the Knicks, there are two disgruntled stars that currently want out of respective cities. These two players are both young, hungry to win a championship, and will relish the limelight of New York. Their names are Karl-Anthony Towns and Kawhi Leonard. Here are some reasons why each would work with the Knicks.
Karl-Anthony Towns is 22 years old and already one of the best young talents in the NBA. He was a stud at Kentucky and is slowly shaping up to be a double-double machine. He is the exact kind of player the Knicks need, but they’ll need to give up A LOT to get him.
Towns is currently in a dispute with his current team, the Minnesota Timberwolves. After the Wolves’ playoff loss this year, Towns spoke out about how he felt he was improperly used down the stretch by head coach Tom Thibodeau. Towns was given very few touches throughout the playoffs and grew tired of Thibs’ defensive, grind it out style.
In order for the Knicks to get Towns, they would have to give up at least Kristaps Porzingis and this year’s first round draft pick, if not next year’s as well. People may still be high on Porzingis, but it’s already been proven that he’s injury prone. A star like Towns would be perfect for the Knicks. He would turn the culture around here and it would be a fresh start for both Porzingis and Towns.
The trade is risky for both sides, as Towns is a free agent after next season. If the Wolves don’t wind up trading him before he becomes a free agent he may walk away for nothing. However, if the Wolves do trade him and Porzingis gets hurt instantly, the draft picks they receive may be for naught. On the Knicks side of the trade, giving away a potential future superstar and two first round draft picks is dangerous to say the least. If they don’t have instant success, Towns may decide to leave after next year and the Knicks are out their first round picks and Porzingis. It’s a risk I’m willing to take though.
This is an option that’s less realistic but it still could happen. The Kawhi Leonard saga is one of the strangest in sports. Essentially, he sat out the entire season for the Spurs because he felt he was more injured than Spurs’ doctors were leading on. He even went as far to confirm his assumptions by bringing in a group of independent New York doctors. Leonard was also very unhappy that LaMarcus Aldridge became the centerpiece of the Spurs’ offense, and he’s been quiet as a mouse on the issue all season.
What makes this situation a little more complicated is two fold; One, the Spurs may offer Leonard a supermax contract extension of five years, $219M contract, which is a TON of money to turn down. Two, if Leonard does turn that contract down, he may be damaged goods so the Spurs will have to work something out to garner a legitimate trade for him.
The reason why the Knicks should go after him is that he would cost a little less than Towns and would be the kind of player they need. He is a defensive minded guard who can pass, shoot, and do pretty much everything else on the court. He already has an affinity for New York and would absolutely relish under the MSG lights. The Knicks might not even have to give up Kristaps Porzingis, and having that deadly duo when healthy would make the Knicks automatic Eastern Conference contenders.
Realistically, there’s a slim chance that either of these deals happen. The Knicks have a lot to give up picks wise, but they really don’t have all that much talent. They could wait until the 2019 offseason, but the New York Knicks and Madison Square Garden don’t have the appeal that they used to. One can dream though.