The hiring of Leon Rose is the latest hope for all New York Knicks fans. If he turns it around he will be a hero like none other. If he doesn’t, he will be thrown on the scrap heat along with the other people who failed at one of the NBA’s toughest jobs.
The front office construction is an interesting one to say the least. GM Scott Perry is on a one year deal. No one would be shocked if Rose brought in his own guy next season. Then there’s Executive Vice President – Senior Basketball Advisor William Wesley. He’s better known as World Wide Wes.
Rose and Wesley are being trusted with identifying and finding the right talent to turn the Knicks around in a fashion that gains James Dolan trust.
Rose started with hiring Tom Thibodeau as head coach. Thibodeau is known to be high demand coach, especially on the defensive end. He’s also known, fair or unfair, for putting heavy minutes on players and grinding them down. It’s the NBA version of Dusty Baker’s reputation with misusing pitchers.
Either way, you can expect more discipline in New York and a higher level of accountability. But no matter how good of a coach Thibodeau is or isn’t at this point of his career, roster building will be the key.
Much to a lot of draft experts surprise, Obi Toppin was available when the Knicks’ turn came up in the draft. Also on the board was Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton.
The Knicks chose Toppin which on the surface made sense but nothing in the NBA is on the surface. Topping shapes up as an excellent screen and roll guy even on the pro level and he was above average on catch and shoots on the college level.
Of course for the Knicks to take advantage of this, they would need to have a capable point guard and they don’t. Drafting Toppin only becomes a good pick, if the Knicks can identify the right point guard to play with him.
There has been talk between the Houston Rockets and the Knicks about Russell Westbrook. The “old” Knicks would’ve done it and taken all financial flexibility and future capital away. At this time, the new Knicks don’t seem interested in bring Westbrook in and that’s a good thing but they’ll still need to fill a gaping hole at that position.
Haliburton would’ve been a better pick for now. It would allow the Knicks to move Frank Ntilikina with his natural replacement already on the roster. The Knicks will have an opportunity to Ntilikina, who has value especially on a contender but they will have to address replacing that role on the roster.
The Knicks second pick was the University of Kentucky’s Immanuel Quickley who is more of a player who will play off the ball than on it.
The Knicks have done very little in free agency. It is probably the best sentence in recent Knicks’ history. Signing Austin Rivers to a manageable three year-$10M deal is perfect. If the Knicks are ahead of the curve, he can certainly help a team trying to make the playoffs.
If the Knicks struggle, he is a perfect candidate for a trade deadline move.
The Knicks also signed guard Alec Burks, center Nerlens Noel and point guard Elfrid Payton to one year-$5M deals.
Burks will help space the floor. Noel has been chasing money since he bet on himself and struck out. Payton is a necessity because the only two ball-handlers on the roster were Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr.
After trading for Ed Davis and two second round picks, the Knicks flipped Davis for an additional second round pick, Omari Spellman, and Jacob Evans. That’s three second round picks and two live bodies for Davis. The Knicks haven’t had that much cleverness in years.
Patience. That’s my projections for the Knicks. They have a lot of parts and some of them are young. It will be interesting to see how much rope he gives them to develop. On paper, the construction of the Knicks doesn’t fit Thibodeau’s reputation.
Obviously the Knicks aren’t a playoff team and Thibodeau isn’t the long-term solution but if the Knicks front office is putting together, let’s say a three year plan, then that will be a massive step in the right direction.
That means they shouldn’t make moves that fits Thibodeau. They should make moves that fit their three year plan. At the end of those three years, you evaluate where you are and if it’s time to move away from Thibodeau then so be it.