Carmelo Anthony enjoyed the best season of his career in 2012-13, winning All-NBA second-team honors and leading the New York Knicks to their first-seeded home playoffs in a decade. A franchise desperate to be relevant interpreted this patchwork run as a reason to overtake, rather than what it was – a sub-championship cap for the star and his team – and the Knicks quickly began to descend the slope. .
Julius Randle enjoyed the best season of his career in 2020-21, winning second-team All-NBA honors and leading the Knicks to their first-seeded home playoffs in a decade. Seven coaching teams and five front-office schemes later, the same desperate franchise has doubled down again on the downward slope of yet another small peak.
Leon Rose now faces a task familiar to his predecessors: pull the Knicks out of a plunge or join an ever-growing list of executives who have dramatically failed to resurrect a long-dormant giant of a franchise.
In 2013, the Knicks acquired Andrea Bargnani, re-signed Kenyon Martin, Pablo Prigioni and JR Smith, and handed recently amnestied Queens-born Metta Sandiford-Artest a two-year contract. Bargnani was a mistake from the start. An ankle injury cost Martin all but 32 games. Prigioni and Smith were consumable before the ink dried on their three-year contracts. Predictable knee problems marred Sandiford-Artest’s return.
Eight years later, the Knicks acquired Evan Fournier, re-signed Derrick Rose, Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel, and handed Bronx native Kemba Walker a two-year contract. Fournier was wrong from the start. An ankle injury cost Rose all but 26 games. Burks and Noel are consumable before the ink dries on their three-year contracts. And predictable knee problems marred Walker’s return.
The parallels are weird, to the $ 124 million five-year extension that awaited Anthony in 2014. The four-year $ 117 million extension Randle signed last summer also doesn’t begin until either. next season.
While it didn’t take long for Anthony to tell critical Knicks fans of his contributions to the team, “You’re stuck with me, mate,” a struggling Randle once got into the habit of saying for the local crowd to “shut their mouths.”
The end of every bad contract the Knicks signed in the past two decades has always come with the promise of cap space in the NBA’s biggest media market, only for the next bad contract to fulfill the role reserved for any renowned player chosen. don’t serve as Anthony’s costar on a mostly mediocre list.
Does the Knicks management have a plan for Randle and the company beyond a failed plan?
The offseason signings of Fournier, Rose, Burks, Noel and Walker for a combined $ 192million were to have been made with the intention of trading a combination of them at the earliest opportunity. None of these agreements makes sense otherwise. Pair a few of the four first-round draft picks they own over the next two years with one or more of their recent lottery picks and a few of those mid-level neutral contracts, and the Knicks should be out. the search for Damian Lillard, Karl-Anthony Towns or any other All-Star then calls for a trade.
Prioritizing tradable contracts over cap space is a decent strategy, given the number of stars switching teams in the era of player empowerment. Most often, signing and exchange agreements facilitate travel.
Except these mid-level deals aren’t as neutral as the Knicks might have hoped. Their recent lottery picks are also not as valuable as they would like. No one is taking the $ 54 million guaranteed to Fournier until 2024 without adding a compensation plan to the deal. RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin haven’t shown enough to title a package that grabs a superstar in return without the addition of a first-round pick to a trade.
Sure, the Knicks could mortgage their near future, but as alluring as Madison Square Garden can be, which superstar sees Randle as the second option that can help him win a title? Is Tom Thibodeau the coach to attract the empowered superstars of this generation? What did Leon Rose do to change the perception that the Knicks are being mismanaged from top to bottom? Last season looks more and more like an anomaly.
The Knicks’ last victory against a winning team came against the Los Angeles Lakers without LeBron James on November 23. They’re 20-21, 11th in the Eastern Conference, precisely where the Minnesota Timberwolves were when they fired Thibodeau in 2019, halfway there. through the encore season until his last playoff aberration.
The Wolves have been chasing it ever since, and it could cost them Towns, a former client of Leon Rose who still has two years on his contract after it. This timeline matches the end of all the cumbersome New York Book contracts except that of Randle, Towns’ predecessor at the University of Kentucky, where another Knicks executive William Wesley was “a goodwill ambassador for our program “.
These are the dots that Knicks fans hope to connect, but they are rightly weary of a team that has long focused on the next big thing at the expense of the little things that get them there. New plan, identical to the old plan, and if history is any indication, no one other than Knicks owner James Dolan will be there at the end. There is nothing to show for the fleeting glory of New York playoff basketball, but another empty promise.
– – – – – – –
Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Do you have any advice? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach