Just over a year ago the New York Knicks used their fourth overall pick in the NBA draft to select Kristaps Porzingis in what seemed like an attempt to rebuild a franchise that got used to losing. Just one year and five signings later the Knicks seem to have committed fully to the win-now approach instead.
After finishing 32-50 and 3rd-to-last in the Eastern Conference last season, and missing the playoffs for the third straight year, it appears as though President of the Knicks, Phil Jackson, sees more of a dire need to win now rather than later. At least that’s how it seems according to signings that took place this offseason for the Knicks.
The first signing that took place was the signing of the former Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek on June 2. Hornacek is succeeding Derek Fisher who went 40-96 as head coach of the Knicks in a season and a half, and Kurt Rambis who went 9-19 after Fisher was fired as head coach.
Hornacek is mainly known as an offensive coach, who’s made his staple running a fast-pace offense. This will directly make an impact for the Knicks, who finished dead last in the league last year in fast break points.
Another change for the Knicks offense this upcoming season is how much they rely on the triangle. It is a very much talked-about topic as the focal point of any offense that Phil Jackson has anything to do with. However Hornacek has gone on record to say that while not doing away with the system, his offense isn’t going to live and die by the triangle.
“It’ll be a part of our offense. it’s something that has worked. It’s won championships,” Hornacek said.
Three weeks later, the Knicks began to revamp their roster, starting with a trade. The Knicks traded PG Jose Calderon, PG Jerian Grant and C Robin Lopez to the Chicago Bulls for G Derrick Rose, G Justin Holiday and a 2017 second-round draft pick.
A couple of weeks later the Knicks signed free agents C Joakim Noah, G Courtney Lee and G Brandon Jennings.
Most of the guys involved in these trades/signings either were an all-star or played like one at some point.
The projected starting lineup is as follows: PG Derrick Rose, SG Courtney Lee, SF Carmelo Anthony, PF Kristaps Porzingis and C Joakim Noah.
As a result, the starting lineup for the Knicks this season is one of depth that can run with the Cleveland Cavaliers and dare I say it, the Golden States, provided guys stay healthy.
Just going to state the obvious here and say that on paper the Knicks could be a problem this season for other teams, at least in the East. However there are still some question marks about these new-look Knicks.
For one, can former MVP Derrick Rose stay healthy all season? How about former Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah? Well Rose put together a healthy season for the first time in a while, playing 66 games, the most he’s played in four years. In addition to that, to say he’s excited about playing well this season would be an understatement.
“I don’t know why I was traded, but I would like to tell them[Chicago Bulls] thank you,” Rose said.
Rose has also made some noise this offseason by declaring the new-look Knicks as a “superteam,” much like Golden State. He also plans on sticking it out with this franchise.
“I hope I’ll be able to play the rest of my career here,” Rose said. “I’m putting my all into this.”
On the other hand, Noah is coming off of his unhealthiest season, which ended in a shoulder surgery, where he played just 29 games and started for only two of them.
During this season he averaged 4.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG and 1.0 BPG.
The last question mark pertains to the runner-up of last season’s NBA rookie of the year, Kristaps Porzingis.
The 7’3” 240lb. Latvian is coming off an exemplary rookie year where he averaged 14.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 1.9 BPG. He became known for his put-back dunks, ability to protect the rim and his pull-up jumpers, but his numbers dropped some as the season went on.
While many will agree that it was exciting watching Put-back Porzingis in action last season, the question is can his play remain consistent? Only time will tell.
Going by the Knicks’ signings this offseason, they’re ready to win now so the team can’t afford Porzingis to have his numbers drop off again midway through this season.
While Knicks fans have many reasons to be optimistic about the upcoming season, once again they have to keep their fingers crossed that guys stay healthy. Then, and only then, can they begin to talk about championship contention.