The New York Knicks have never been more clear as to what the team wants and how they’ll get there.
What do they want? A championship.
How do they get there? Throw heaps of money at players and/or front office personnel.
The Knicks are in what many call a “win-now” mentality. The term has been tainted by many fans using it as an excuse for terrible decision making, but it is the best descriptor of New York’s growth in recent years.
Give a lot of money to good players. Then fill the rest of the roster with minimum contracts every year and through the Draf– Oh, right, the Knicks never have any draft picks. Go for a championship. That’s the plan.
Effective? Not so much. The best team we’ve had in over a decade? Yes.
This past season was the Knicks’ first looking like a competent title contender, but they were bullied out of the second round by the Indiana Pacers. Not the ending Knicks fans envisioned, but hey, they weren’t that far off from completing their goal. They only had to avoid some injuries, out-play the Pacers, then the Heat and Spurs. At least we have this upcoming season! Only problem is, it gets tougher from here.
The Miami Heat still being the Miami Heat, the Knicks don’t stand a freakin’ chance in hell in a seven-game series. They still have LeBron James, and his “aging” superstar counterparts have still risen to the moment when called upon. Shane Battier is still ageless and Mario Chalmers continues to grow into a very solid point guard. The Heat are still the primary vacationing-for-a-free-championship destination spot for veteran free agents, and they also came away with James Ennis in the Draft via a trade with Atlanta.
The Bulls were the fifth best defensive team in basketball (per NBA.com) last season, and upset the Brooklyn Nets in seven games in the first round of the 2013 postseason. They did so with their second-best player — Joakim Noah — playing through plantar fasciitis throughout the series and their third-best player — Luol Deng — missing the latter portion of the series due to a spinal tap. The Bulls drafted Tony Snell and Erik Murphy, two rookies who can fill the biggest void in Chicago’s attack, the three-point shot.
Indiana’s young core of Paul George, Roy Hibbert and George Hill have another year under their belt, and they’ll undoubtedly be even better next season. While the Pacers will need to figure out a way to retain starting forward David West, they will also hopefully get back a full-strength Danny Granger, a player who was once considered the face of the franchise and missed the overwhelming majority of the 2013 season due to a battle with patellar tendinosis.
Let me tell you how the Nets obtaining Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will go for the Knicks. Beware: Breaking Bad reference with spoilers. You know how our ‘Bockers knocked the Celtics up and down the block last year in the regular season and in the opening round of the Playoffs? Well compare that to Gustavo Fring killing Hector Salamanca’s entire family in Breaking Bad. This old crippling man (in the Knicks’ case, Pierce and Garnett) ruined Gus’s (Knicks fans’) life and Fring murdered his whole family, and boasted about it. You know who the Nets are? The bomb. DING-DING-DING-DING-DING-DING-DING-DING-DING-DING.
The Atlanta Hawks are a pretty depleted basketball team, but have the core pieces to potentially build into a threat from scratch with Al Horford, head coach Mike Buenholzer, general manager Danny Ferry and a couple of solid picks in the Draft — Lucas Nogueira and Dennis Schroeder.
The Washington Wizards were the eighth best defensive team last year and will come into the 2014 season with a trio of healthy John Wall, sophomore Bradley Beal and third overall pick Otto Porter.
The Toronto Raptors could very well be Playoff-bound since their acquisition of Rudy Gay, and with developing players such as Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas, they could very well make a splash next year. Perhaps the biggest key to their forthcoming success lies in their front office, with Masai Ujiri hired as their new general manager.
The Detroit Pistons possibly have the highest ceiling of any team who were in the lottery this season, with a young squad built around their twin towers of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. They also own a pair of super-talented guards in Brandon Knight and newly-drafted Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Oh yeah, and there’s also the entire Western Conference to worry about.
So, is there any other direction the Knicks can take from here? A #TankForWiggins campaign is realistically out of the question, and a major shakeup through a trade is tough to construct with where the Knicks stand financially. The only real option here is to enjoy the next few years of fifty-win seasons and bitter early Playoff exits until our triumvirate of Carmelo Anthony’s contract, Amar’e Stoudemire’s contract and Tyson Chandler’s contract come off the books. Maybe then can we start anew, hopefully with a more sound strategy in mind.