The 2018-2019 New York Knicks are in one of the most unique positions of all the 30 teams in the NBA. A fresh start is on the horizon for a once great franchise, with the hiring of a new coach in David Fizdale and consistently being in the rumor mill this summer, as the team who will land Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving in the 2019 offseason. Riddled by Joakim Noah’s, Courtney Lee’s and Tim Hardaway Jr’s contracts, having a top draft pick could be a strong asset in a pitch to land big-name free agents in 2019.
After Kristaps Porzingis suffered an ACL injury on February 6th, the outlook for the 2018-2019 NBA season went down with him. Without their best player until at least February and maybe even the whole season, it is tough to see a future where a (29-53) team can make the jump into the playoffs next season. The additions of Noah Vonleh and Mario Hezonja are low risk, low reward type players who don’t make the Knicks a top 8 team in the East.
If this roster plays above their ability and exceeds their expectations, at best they’re an 8 seed. Best case scenario, they’re a team who will be more thank likely be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, no matter who they face.
With such a bleak outlook for next season, why not use that time to progress and develop young talent (Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, and Frank Ntilikina) much like what teams such as the Hawks are doing. Behind developing their young core, their most important priority should be riding their books of the contracts of Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee, freeing up space for the 2019 NBA offseason.
It is evident with the roster they have constructed, the Knicks are a few pieces away from restoring their franchise’s name back to its glory days. If the longterm plan is truly to sign two marquee free agents in the 2019 offseason, the best available route for the Knicks might be tanking. Obtaining a young player such as R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, or Zion Williamson make them a much more formidable destination for free agents. Resting Porzingis for the entire season might be the best course of action for the future of the franchise, so let the tanking begin in the Big Apple.
Knicks fans keep in mind this season’s goal is to find out who to keep moving forward, a chance to weed out the people who don’t buy in or don’t fit in. This new regime has to figure out who they’re taking with them throughout the end of this rebuild. This season isn’t about making the playoffs but about building a culture that hopes to attain success for many years to come. Keep looking and you might find there is finally a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.