NY Post: Leon Rose’s grand Knicks roster plans went up in flames

Berman’s hearing voices again:

“They took a conservative approach by signing one-year, stopgap players,’’ ESPN’s cap guru and former Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks told The Post. “This is a huge year for RJ [Barrett], [Kevin] Knox and Obi from a development stage. It’s important for the young kids to develop this season. That will be the draw to free agents.”

This wasn’t Rose’s Plan A, however. When Rose came aboard, The Post has learned, he talked internally about his grandiose plans of trading for point guard Chris Paul, his former CAA client, to hasten the rebuild.

Then Rose planned to sign ex-Knick Carmelo Anthony, Paul’s buddy. Anthony also is a former Rose client who rejuvenated his career in Portland.

According to a source, Paul wanted to stay close to his son in Los Angeles and was not feeling the Knicks. Paul wound up being traded to Phoenix. On the record, the veteran All-Star point guard said a New York move without the trappings of a packed Garden wasn’t appealing.

So Rose went into free agency looking to bolster the moribund point-guard position but lost out on his top targets that included Fred VanVleet, who never gave the Knicks a passing glance while re-signing with Toronto.

Rose wound up bringing back starting point guard Elfrid Payton, also a CAA client.

Rose and Wesley, a former CAA adviser who is close to the Kentucky basketball factory, get a pass for now. But the honeymoon will be over if 2021 passes without a star being drawn to New York.

The burning question is whether a win-now Thibodeau can deal with this rebuilding roster filled with five former Kentucky players, none of whom has reached his potential. Thibodeau is not a patient man.

I don’t know who’s leaking this stuff to Berman, but they seem like they are kind of troublemakers (I’m not saying they’re not telling the truth, of course, but still). And hey, whatever, the end result is that they didn’t trade for Chris Paul or re-sign Carmelo Anthony. So I’m not going to knock them for it. But I’ll admit that it is not fun to read that.

Oh, I forgot our all poll content now. How about…

Who will be the Knicks starting center in Game 1 of this season?

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Bleacher Report: Are the New York Knicks Finally Making the Right Moves?

Interesting Dan Favale piece:

Baseline sensibility is an awfully low bar to which to hold an NBA franchise. Celebrating what feels like the bare minimum of coherent thinking doesn’t sit right. But we’d be remiss not to acknowledge that, in this case, it also represents a shift in operations. The bare minimum has by and large proved to be unreachable for so long. Even when promising groundwork appears to be laid, it is inevitably short-circuited for a chance at superstar hoarding.

Maybe this iteration of the front office, led by Leon Rose, deserves the benefit of the doubt. Maybe.

The tentacles of CAA, Rose’s former agency, continue to have a tight grip on the organization. Just for starters, Toppin is represented by them, as is head coach Tom Thibodeau. The latter’s arrival itself was seen as a red flag.

Never mind the optics of a recently hired agent using his new position to hire his former client. Thibodeau isn’t the coach you choose to chaperone one of the league’s youngest rosters and oversee a thorough rebuild. As the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy noted: “In his last 15 seasons as a top assistant or head coach—with the Rockets, Celtics, Bulls and Timberwolves—Thibodeau finished with exactly two losing records.”

Boxing coaches into a roster type is lame. They can adapt. (Though, Thibodeau has yet to show he can update his defensive approach.) And Thibodeau isn’t in New York under false pretense. No amount of cap space was going to rescue the Knicks from the fringes of the NBA’s basement. It wasn’t that type of free-agency class. Both he and Rose emphasized player development about a kajillion times when Thibodeau was hired. This version of the Knicks could be different.

I think he splits the baby well between complimenting the Knicks and noting that it is still relatively early in our judgment on these guys.

SNY.com: Knicks feel ‘less inclined’ to trade for Russell Westbrook and his massive salary, looking for long-term cap flexibility

From the great Ian Begley:

After three days of free agency, the Knicks still have $18 million in cap space. And it doesn’t seem like they’re in a hurry to use it.

Even after Sunday’s Ed Davis trade, teams were under the impression that the Knicks remain open to providing cap relief to general managers looking to offload salary.

They’ve already done it twice in separate transactions with veteran Ed Davis, acquiring three second-round picks and two young players (Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman).

Depending on how the Charlotte-Gordon Hayward signing plays out, the Knicks could help the Hornets shed any salary needed to complete the transaction via sign-and-trade. Of course, New York would want to acquire an asset from either Charlotte or Boston in exchange for providing the cap relief.

The Knicks could also sit tight during the rest of the free agency period and use the cap space at the trade deadline to absorb a contract from a team looking to clear money in free agency.

Begley threw in some commentary at the end that I think will ring true with us here at Knickerblogger:

Based on what we’ve seen over the past few days, New York is taking a patient approach in Year 1 under Rose. That could mean another long season for the Knicks in 2020-21. Based on current roster composition, it seems like the young Knicks (RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, etc.) will have an opportunity to play a ton and learn on the job. That hasn’t been the case in year’s past.

Obviously, fans looking for a big acquisition in the 2020 offseason were disappointed with the first few days of free agency. The Knicks should have another chance to land a star in the summer of 2021. New York can have significant cap space that summer and will have two first-round picks in what should be a strong draft. (In all, they have eight first-round picks and 11 second-round picks in the next six drafts)

So the waiting game may continue for long-suffering Knicks fans. But Rose & Co. didn’t do anything in free agency that the franchise may regret in a couple years. That alone seems like a step in the right direction.

Agreed.

NY Post: Knicks’ free-agency flop means tank is on for Cade Cunningham

Berman tried to throw a bit of a grenade into our general “feeling good about the Knicks’ front office for the first time in decades” attitude:

The Knicks entered free agency with a league-high $40 million in cap space and with heady visions. They wanted to be a major playoff threat in coach Tom Thibodeau’s first season and bring glamour back to the Garden – even if it might be empty for the 36-game home schedule.

That is why they drafted a more ready-made forward in native New Yorker Obi Toppin, age 22, over Israeli project forward Deni Avdija, 19, when both surprisingly dropped to No. 8.

Avdija, a playmaking forward, could be the next…Gordon Hayward. The Israeli had his fans in the Knicks organization.

The Knicks acted like a title contender on Wednesday’s draft night when they wanted to keep open a roster spot for free agency and decided to hastily trade the 33rd pick in the draft – which most executives covet – for a 2023 second-round pick. They had little time to wheel as all their targets came off the board, including Duke center Vernon Carey Jr. at 32.

Those are not the actions of a rebuilding team, but one looking to turn around its miserable fortunes right away in a hurried, chaotic 2020-21 season. They wanted to give star-caliber coach Thibodeau, who usually doesn’t covet rookies, the best chance.

As it unfolded on Blue Saturday, the Knicks went from potentially being a legit playoff contender (10 teams qualify in each conference) to competing for the No. 1 lottery seed in the 2021 draft with a chance at 6-7 combo guard Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State, whose season begins Wednesday vs. UT Arlington at 4 p.m. on ESPN2. He’s the NBA’s Trevor Lawrence.

Now, yes, let it be said that the plans that Berman goes on to list, if true, were not smart plans (and whatever else we think about Marc Berman’s journalism, he tends to be spot on about stuff like this), however, I think it is important that Rose actually pivoted to something intelligent when his first plan didn’t work. That’s huge. When Mills and Perry had their initial plan for last offseason dashed by Kevin Durant’s injury, they pivoted to just absolute nonsense. Here, Rose pivoted to well-considered, intelligent moves, while keeping the Knicks cap space open for future moves. He added undervalued complimentary veterans who will help, but there is little chance of Elfrid Payton, Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks “carrying” the Knicks to a high 30s win team. If the Knicks win in the high 30s, it will be on the backs of their young players like RJ Barrett taking a leap, Obi Toppin being better than expected as a rookie and Mitch continuing to be Mitch (but maybe with a fabled outside shot now?).

That’s the correct way to manage these things. So yes, Rose’s initial plan was a bit ill-considered, but at the same time, his ill-considered plans were so ill-considered (Hayward taking barely a raise on a two-year deal? Huh?) that it struck me that he was fully prepared for these plans not happening and if/when they didn’t, he was prepared to go with a reasonable plan.

That’s a good thing.

ESPN.com: New York Knicks agree with Nerlens Noel, Elfrid Payton on 1-year deals

From ESPN.com:

Free-agent center Nerlens Noel and point guard Elfrid Payton have each agreed to a one-year deal worth $5 million with the New York Knicks, their agents told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Noel, who is represented by Rich Paul and Lucas Newton of Klutch Sports, has jumped around the league since being taken sixth overall by the Sixers in the 2013 NBA draft. He was traded midway through his third season in Philadelphia, spent 1½ seasons with the Mavericks, and then signed a free-agent deal with the Thunder in July 2018.

The 26-year-old appeared in 61 games (seven starts) for OKC in the shortened 2019-20 season, averaging 7.4 points and 4.9 rebounds in 18.5 minutes.

He remains one of the game’s better shot-blockers; his 2.9 swats per 36 minutes this past season ranked sixth in the league.

Payton, who is represented by Aaron Mintz and Ty Sullivan of CAA, returns to the Knicks after averaging 10.0 points and 7.2 assists per game for them last season.

Wow! They actually got Noel! They needed a point guard, so bringing Payton back was fair enough, but Nerlens Noel? One of the most underrated players in the NBA? On the Knicks? On a one-year/$5 million deal? WOW!

As part of our all-poll content, here ya go…

What was the dumbest decision of the Gordon Hayward 4 years/$120 million?

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SNY.com: Knicks agree to trade with Jazz for veteran C Ed Davis

From Scott Thompson:

The Knicks and Jazz are in agreement on a trade that would send veteran center Ed Davis to New York, SNY’s Ian Begley confirmed.

Utah will also be sending two second-round picks in the 2023 NBA Draft with Davis, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

With the Knicks declining the option for Taj Gibson, a trade for a younger Davis makes sense to back up Mitchell Robinson down low. And it’s a role Davis is used to in the Big Apple, having worked behind Jarrett Allen with the Brooklyn Nets two seasons ago. He was also behind Rudy Gobert on the Jazz last season.

At 6-foot-9, 218 pounds, Davis can also play at the four if need be. The 21-year-old averaged 10.8 minutes per game last year and only 1.8 points with 3.8 rebounds. With the Nets, he averaged 8.6 rebounds, his highest total of his career, with 5.8 points per game.

Davis only costs $5 million for the 2020-21 season.

Nice to see the Knicks actually taking on salary for future assets. It’s a thing of beauty. And it’s funny that Davis, who Rose just picked up as a salary dump, is not much worse than Taj Gibson, who the Knicks actively signed for $10 million.

Unless, of course, they then trade all of these second round picks for, like, Russell Westbrook.

I am sorry for putting that evil out into the world!