With no draft picks, no cap space to utilize, a weak roster and one superstar that might be opting out of his contract this summer, the New York Knicks need to do something not just to improve their sulky present, but also start working towards a better future, which means going after draft selections other teams have, even buying them from others.
The fact of the matter is that the Knicks don’t have any players and contracts teams are really interested in dealing for. The amount of bad deals on this team, or at least those that have turned out horrible is quite astounding. All their big contracts are unmovable, except for Carmelo Anthony. However, the Knicks don’t want to lose the only real valuable asset they have, so they’ll probably be doing that with meaningless players or by spending money.
Buying draft picks isn’t just a matter of cash reserves. There’s also competition for draft picks. The Brooklyn Nets, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans and Golden State Warriors are all in the same boat and might go after teams like the Philadelphia 76ers (seven picks) or the Milwaukee Bucks (four picks), which means the Knicks might be entering a bidding war for second round picks.
If you need a reminder, second-round picks are hardly franchise changers, especially on a team that needs a lot of work like the Knicks do. Still, with their limitations on bringing players in, as they’ll be able only to bring in minimum contract veterans (as if this team needs more old players) and one player on the low tier of the mid-level exception, even a second round draft picks sounds like an incredible achievement.
Phil Jackson might be a big name, but there’s certain things he can’t do, which is turn this squad into champions right away. The funny thing about this Knicks team is that a year earlier, with hardly a change in the roster, they were considered by some to be title contenders in the East, and dragged a conference semifinal series against the Pacers to six games. Things quickly change and perception as well.
So maybe it’s not about draft picks and bringing in new players, but about the right coach, the right man pulling the strings and good enough player development? Maybe the right kind of atmosphere, like the Knicks seemed to have late in the season when they made a playoff push that eventually failed, is exactly the kind of turnaround this team needs, instead of a complete franchise overhaul?
Many teams around the league, especially those in the big markets, view everything as win it all or bust. No matter what happens with the Knicks this summer, it’s going to take more than what they can do to become title contenders. Building for the future isn’t exactly possible as well, so trying to make this bunch into a group with a winning mentality again is probably the best they can hope for. One draft pick or none is probably not going to matter.