NEW YORK, NY-With less than two months until the Knicks get their 2017-18 campaign started off against the Oklahoma City Thunder, there are still a lot of questions about how this season will go. More importantly will they surpass their 31 games that they won last year, or even reach 31?
Firstly, we might as well address the elephant in the room. Is 10x All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony going to be in a Knicks uniform on opening night? That’s been the million dollar question for some time now especially since this February when former President of Basketball Operations, Phil Jackson, took to Twitter to criticize Anthony.
For two months now, multiple reports have pointed towards Anthony willing to move on from New York and be traded. The only problem with that is that he still has two years left on his contract, and is owed $54.1 million. In particular, ever since his friend and 9x All-Star, G Chris Paul, joined the Houston Rockets in early July he’s only expressed interest in being traded to Houston. Anthony is so fixated on going to H-Town that he even rejected the possibility of joining his other friend, F LeBron James, in Cleveland when he had the chance to when G Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers.
Chances are if Anthony’s list of desired destinations wasn’t so short he would be elsewhere by now. However going to the Rockets seems to be mission impossible at the moment.
“Right now there is no scenario. The Rockets don’t have picks, which is the Knicks’ first priority and they really don’t have young talent that would fit either,” said Steve Popper of The Record. “With the Rockets hard-capped the Knicks not only have to bring back matching salary, but Carmelo has to waive his trade kicker to make the deal happen. The centerpiece is logically is Ryan Anderson, but with three years and $60 million due to Anderson, who is a much more useful fit for a team like the Rockets, where he can just plant himself on the three-point line, the Knicks have no interest in adding an extra year of salary.”
Therefore until a third team wants to join in to make this trade happen, Melo might just have to stick it out with the Knicks, who he said he’s willing to ride or die for just a few years ago.
Secondly, it’s no secret that the Knicks have made little to no moves this offseason. With that being said, if you are a Knicks fan, you have every reason to be a bit worried about this upcoming season. You lost both guards Derrick Rose and Justin Holiday to free agency and might have to trade Melo away. In addition to that you gained G Ramon Sessions, F Michael Beasley and signed G Tim Hardaway Jr. to a 4yr/$70 million contract. That’s what you have to look forward to.
“[Back in 2015] Phil shipped him out in what has turned out to be a cascading series of bad deals. He did improve in Atlanta thanks to their great development work – and willingness to put him in the G-League or bench him if wasn’t going to defend,” said Popper. “Some scouts fear [that with him] back with the Knicks in a much bigger role he will revert to some of the flaws he had the first time around – awful defense and a gunner mentality.”
Besides the worry about his playing style, arguably what is even more worrisome is how much the Knicks paid him, $70 million guaranteed.
“No executive I’ve spoken to around the league believes he could have [even] gotten a deal within $20 million of what the Knicks handed him,” said Popper.
Thirdly, what can the Knicks expect with Steve Perry as the team’s new General Manager? The realistic answer is that they have to wait and see. His resume is pretty impressive, given he was hired by Joe Dumars in 2000 by the Pistons, where he served as a front office executive that went to six straight Eastern Conference Finals, won two conference championships, and an NBA title in 2004. In multiple other roles he’s also helped draft players such as Kevin Durant, Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton.
Popper already thinks that Perry has already been moving the organization in the right direction by backing off of the seemingly desperateness that Phil Jackson had to trade Carmelo Anthony. Despite trade rumors going around for some time now, no one was willing to offer the Knicks anything of significant value. Therefore keeping him in the Big Apple is the best option for the organization right now.
Lastly, now that there’s no black cloud of the triangle hanging over the organization, what kind of offense can we expect to see from the Knicks this season? Well one thing we can expect is a more fast-paced offense. That being because head coach Jeff Hornacek is known for that. However we didn’t get to see it during his first year in New York because of Jackson’s obsession with the triangle. If Hornacek does implement this vintage characteristic to the offense this season that will be a big help for the Knicks, who finished 24th in the league in fast break points last season. As a matter of fact they haven’t even finished in the top 20 in fast break points since the 2011-12 season. On the other hand, in Hornacek’s last full season as head coach in Phoenix, the Suns finished 3rd in the league in fast break points.
There also is no telling how All-Star forwards Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis will fit within his offense. With that being said all we can do is wait and see, but as usual the NBA’s most valuable franchise will have all eyes on them this season.
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