It is no secret, the New York Knicks have been the laughing stock of the NBA for the best part of the last 2 decades. With the 2nd lowest winning percentage in the 21st century (0.414), higher only than the Charlotte Hornets, the Knicks have only won one playoff series in that time. Characterized by dysfunction, the once misguided Knicks, have a plan. While difficult to execute, the plan in place is simple to understand: stockpile assets in the form of young NBA players, refrain from trading any future 1st round draft picks and maintain financial flexibility.
The 2019 Free Agent class is one of the most intriguing classes in recent years with the likes of Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving set to hit the market. While the Knicks aren’t guaranteed to sign any of the stars of this class, if they stick to their plan, the allure of New York City alone should get them meetings. That in itself would signify a change in the way star players view the franchise. Here are 3 reasons why NBA stars may be willing to call New York their home for the next few years.
Fizdale was fired by the Memphis Grizzlies 15 games into the 2017-18 NBA season, a day after benching Marc Gasol for the fourth quarter in an attempt to establish accountability and responsibility after a poor start to the game. The strained relationship between the two figures wasn’t hiden and it was decisive in Fizdale’s firing. His Riley-esque grit and grind approach to the game brought out the competitive nature of his players put on show in the Grizzlies playoff matchup with the San Antonio Spurs in 2017. Fizdale was appointed by the Knicks in May of this year, he was the hottest commodity on the coach market. His ability to be a flexible coach is something that will certainly attract players, players want to be coached and coached well. Fizdale is projected to become an elite coach in this league but the fact that he was supported by some of the leagues stars including the likes of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade is arguably even more promising. Knicks players also celebrated his arrival all signifying there are plenty of players in the league that are eager to play for the coach.
The Young Core:
With Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson having promising starts to their rookie campaign, Frank Ntilikina flashing his potential as a two way player and Kristaps Porzingis making the All Star team as a 22 year old, the Knicks have a promising young core. As shown by LeBron James in the summer when signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, NBA stars aren’t afraid to play with young players believing their youth and athleticism is more of an advantage than their inexperience being a disadvantage made evident by the likes of Clint Capela, Donovan Mitchell, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum all having good playoff campaigns. In particular, a potential free agent of next summer Kyrie Irving was very vocal about his thoughts on Porzingis, he explained ‘I told him [Porzingis] I would love to play with a big like you’. There is no clearer indication that New York will be a big player in the 2019 free agency when one of the main free agents wouldn’t mind playing with the Knicks young star.
New York City:
Quite simply, the Mecca of basketball. Good Knicks teams are beloved like no other and NBA free agents know this. You win in this city and the feeling is unmatched. Every positive thing will be magnified (as well as every negative). Nothing boosts your legacy more than winning with the Knicks. A storied franchise that hasn’t won an NBA championship for around 45 years. This could certainly be appealing to stars like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant who still haven’t proved they can lead a team to a championship without a super team. While the opportunity to bring New York a championship is intriguing, arguably more enticing is the marketing opportunities in the City. There is no bigger market than New York. The City would cause a massive expansion in your brand from commercial deals to more endorsements. This could attract the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson who may not be as popular as their ability suggests they should. This wouldn’t be an issue if they played in NYC.
Knicks have fans have suffered for many years, but the future looks very bright.