NBA Future Power Rankings: 12. New York Knicks
New York Knicks: I would first like to start this by saying even though I have been a Knicks fan my entire life, I will write this as unbiased as all the other teams. Since the turn of the century it has been really hard to trust the Knicks, but they finally appear to be heading in the right direction. After the Raptors used the Knicks 9th pick in this years draft to select Jakob Poeltl as part of the horrendous Andrea Bargnani trade, the Knicks own all of their future 1st round picks for probably the first time in my life (for those of you wondering I am 20). Before the draft the Knicks made a great trade by acquiring former MVP Derrick Rose. Anyone that thinks Rose will play like his pre-injury self in the big apple is delusional. Nonetheless, Rose was starting to show more flashes of his incredible talent at the end of last season and should be more motivated than ever. His hometown Bulls and many fans around the league have written him off as another star whose career has tragically been derailed by injury. If there was ever a year for a player to be motivated to “prove it” it has to be the 2016-17 campaign for D Rose. Rose is joining a new team on the biggest stage in the league entering a contract season. The reason I like this trade for the Knicks is that it carries little risk. Rose is on an expiring contract, so if he fails to live up to expectations the Knicks can let him walk and try to sign a floor general next summer when free agency will be loaded with star point guards. If the Rose experiment doesn’t work out, the Knicks will go after superstar point guards Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. A lot of people are calling this move a classic Knicks trade that the old regime would have made, but I disagree. If this were the same old Knicks, they would have traded two unprotected future 1st round picks for Rose. Instead the Knicks traded no picks and just two players of value, Jerian Grant and Robin Lopez. Grant looks like he will be a solid backup point guard, but I would be surprised if he ever developed into a true starter. It may shock some people to hear that Rose will be entering his 9th year in the league at 28 while Grant begins just his 2nd year at 24 years old. Lopez is a solid center and had a good year for the Knicks, but the Knicks knew they needed a point guard. With a poor free agent point guard class and no draft picks, Rose is probably the best point guard the Knicks could have acquired once Mike Conley re-signed with Memphis. A big factor in this trade was the Knicks were much more confident they could sign a starting caliber center to replace Lopez then they were in their ability to find a starting point guard. The Knicks found their center in Rose’s former teammate Joakim Noah, who they signed to a 4-year $72 Million deal. This move is the only one made by the Knicks this offseason that I had a problem with. Noah is a great addition to the team and brings so many intangibles to the table. He is a great leader and one of the best defensive anchors in the game. Noah is not a player you can expect to create his own shot, but he is one of the best passing big men in the league. If we solely compared Noah and Lopez as players, I would prefer Noah. Unfortunately when you consider non-basketball factors, Lopez is the superior player. Over the next three seasons Noah will be making about $8 Million more than Lopez and will be under contract for a fourth year. In addition Noah has an extensive injury history and is 31, while Lopez has had relatively healthy career and is 28. In a perfect world the Knicks would have signed Noah to a 2-year deal, or even a 3-year agreement. The reason I am not a fan of this deal is the thought of paying a worn down Noah about $20 Million a year in his mid-thirties at the end of the contract. During the rest of the offseason the Knicks were absolute winners. Brandon Jennings looked like a shell of himself after returning from a torn Achilles, but adding a player of his talent to a 1-year $5 Million deal is a great low-risk high-reward signing. Courtney Lee should fill in as the perfect 5th starter for the Knicks after agreeing to a 4-year $48 Million offer. Lee is a very good defender and shooter and can run the floor. He is the perfect complimentary piece and at 30 years old he should be effective for the life of the contract. One of the best deals of the summer was the under the radar move to bring back forward Lance Thomas for 4-years $27.5 Million. Comparing the two purely as players, I would prefer Thomas over Pelicans signee Solomon Hill, and the Pelicans just paid Hill about $20 Million more over the life of his 4 year contract. Thomas was having a terrific season for the Knickerbockers before getting injured. In fact his injury directly correlated with the Knicks fall from a near .500 ball club to one of the worst in the NBA. The Knicks have few players returning from last year’s squad, but two of them are the most important guys on the team. First there’s Carmelo Anthony, one of the most highly criticized stars in the game. Melo is still one of the top scorers in the world and a very good rebounder. Many fans don’t realize it, but he is actually a decent defender and very good passer, although I will admit he sometimes appears disinterested in either of the two. Anthony is being paid a lot of money, but his contract looks a lot more favorable now that players like DeMar DeRozan, Nicolas Batum, and Bradley Beal will be making nearly the same amount per year. The main reason for the Knicks high ranking is Latvian sensation Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis has no doubt become overrated, but he is already well ahead of where most expected him to be after his rookie season. The only weaknesses in Porzingis game can be attributed to his youth and slender frame. As the 20 year old fills out and gets more experience he will cut down on his fouls, become a better one on one post defender, and be better equipped to back down opponents on offense. Porzingis is already a good outside shooter and passer and an excellent help side defender and rebounder. The Knicks have surrounded Porzingis with a great group of veterans and leaders that should help him mature and develop into a true superstar. It’s hard to predict how the Knicks will fare next season since they have so many injury risks, but it would be very surprising if they didn’t at least reach the postseason. Fans finally have a team to be excited about and should look forward to more “swishing and dishing” as Knicks legend and commentator Walt “Clyde” Frazier would say.