The poor campaign was the result of a variety of factors. However, the most significant one was probably that the veteran players on the squad continued to have trouble clicking. Injury issues did contribute a bit to that, however. Derrick Rose suffered from leg and feet injuries. Joakim Noah missed 20 games due to violating the league’s drug policy and also suffered a season-ending rotator cuff injury. Kristaps Porzingis kept on battling Achilles issues.
But there is hope amongst Weisfogel and Knicks fans that Porzingis will be healthy next season and that he and Willy Hernangomez will be a frontcourt tandem who will add a bit of quality to the team’s fortunes in the coming years as these two European players are still young, in their early 20s.
Meanwhile, although Carmelo Anthony did lead the team in points per game with 22.4, many believe that the best thing to do would be to send the 10-time NBA All-Star small forward off to another club. Of course, the team is better with him, but the long-term future of the Knicks may be much improved without him. Anthony being on the court hurts the team’s ability to rebuild, which is desperately needed. His departure would give high draft choices more playing time, more experience in the league.
Another way to look at it is if Anthony leads the New York Knicks to a decent-but-not-.500 season in 2017-18, it would have been preferred that he not be there, the team have a really bad season and then receive a top draft pick a year from now. Depending on what they get for Anthony, the Knicks could even be able to have a stronger draft this year or next. Saving money on Anthony’s final two seasons of his five-year $125 million contract would help a bit too.
However, as Avi states, it is important to note that Anthony does have a no-trade clause, which he would have to waive in order for the Knicks to get rid of them if they decide that doing so is the best option after all. And he has voiced wanting to be part of a winning environment at Madison Square Garden.
Otherwise, the Knicks will be focusing on picking a good player to complement Hernangomez and Porzingis in the first round of the NBA Draft, which will take place on June 22. The Knicks will draft early in that round and will have plenty of talent available to them when it is their turn to choose. Two picks in the second round will help too, especially when you consider that the team is an older one with Hernangomez and Porzingis being the lone two young players who appear to have significant potential.
Weisfogel knows that this is often the case in sports, the long-term future of the club is likely going to be much more of a focus than simply winning as many games as possible next season. In other words, the 2017-18 campaign will likely be a rebuilding one for the Knicks as they look to secure top draft picks and create cohesion with what may become a mostly new group of players.
In doing so, the team should look to sign younger players, most likely 27 or younger unless they can secure an older player who is already a star and can greatly contribute to the team’s short-term and long-term fortunes. New York should also focus on backcourt players with the frontcourt pretty set with players like Porzingis and Hernangomez roaming the area next to the rim. This year’s draft is full of talented guards, so the focus should initially be on that and then on growing from there.
Although last season was disappointing and a playoff appearance probably shouldn’t be expected this coming campaign, according to Weisfogel, the long-term future is bright. The Knicks own all of their first-round picks for the foreseeable future, and they do have a strong inside game to build around. Anthony can help the team in a couple of ways, either with his veteran leadership if he remains with the Knicks or by allowing the front office to add some badly needed young players if the two parties can agree on a deal to ship him out of the Big Apple.