The New York Knicks firing their head coach as they seem to drift further and further away from making the playoffs, just highlights the problem and big hope in their current roster. Carmelo Anthony, not a leading man on a franchise player contract, while the Kristaps Porzingis surprise shoulders the hope for better days.
Anthony has been immediately confronted with trade rumor talk, but he’s shot that down by talking about trusting in Phil Jackson and the process the Knicks are currently in. They’re better than they were last season, but contending for a championship is still two years or more away from them. A little secret that Anthony knows about as well? It’s not going to happen with him on the team and this contract.
Anthony has been praised for playing better defense, changing his ways and being more of a team or system player this season. It didn’t last for long. Deep down, whether it’s for the need to prove he can be as good as Dwyane Wade and LeBron James or simply not caring about limiting his team through his playing style, he refuses to change. A talented scorer who holds up the offense, making it predictable and easy to slow down with an above average defense. A scorer, nothing more.
On the other end of that equation is Porzingis, averaging 13.9 points per game and possibly winning rookie of the year. Despite being the fourth overall pick, many thought the 19-year old Latvian was a long term project at best. He’s not an All-Star player and maybe the hype around him has something to do with him being on the Knicks and not the Minnesota Timberwolves (just ask Karl-Anthony Towns), but the Knicks don’t have anything else to hang their hopes on.
The Knicks aren’t counting on Porzingis to become a franchise player and one of the best in the NBA. There have been a lot of “the next Dirk Nowitzki”, non of them panning out so far. The realistic approach will be to expect less, but window shop him as someone stars would like to play with. The Knicks need this free agency to be a successful one in order to advance in the world, with the East packed with teams that might not be championship-worthy, but see the playoffs as the realistic destination. Fisher was fired so they can leapfrog these teams pretty soon. Porzingis presents a better window of opportunity than Anthony to make that jump.