By Griffin Finch
Since James Dolan took over ownership duties of the Knicks from his father Charles Dolan, the Knicks have struggled to put forth any semblance of respectable basketball. For as long as I can remember, the Knicks have been stuck in an endless cycle of bad contracts, inept executives and poor coaching fits. Last week New York traded the only shred of hope Knicks fans had had in years. Considering that Kristaps Porzingis said that he would not be resigning next summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, Scott Perry and Steve Mills did a pretty good job. They were able to get out of some bad contracts and only brought things back that aid the team going forward. It’s not the trade itself that bothers me so much. It’s the fact that it had to happen at all.
To understand why this situation unfolded the way it did we have to painfully go back and remember the years when Phil Jackson was president of basketball operations at Madison Square Garden. All Knicks fans remember from his tenure is that the only positive thing he did was draft Porzingis. In hindsight, I am of the opinion that Phil Jackson was never interested in winning in New York. I believe he was only in it for the twelve million dollars a year he was being paid to do the job. His time in New York was marred by bad contracts handed out to just about everyone who came through the front doors, slander of his then resident star Carmelo Anthony and the dreaded triangle offense that is clearly an antiquated system in today’s NBA. Phil Jackson made the prospect of playing for New York so bad that no one that could come in and make change, wanted to do so. As a result the Knicks had to give too much money to people that didn’t deserve it. Because of that, the team has been struggling with cap problems for what seems like forever. When you overpay players and can’t attract top tier talent you are likely to lose a lot of games and after sitting on the bench injured for a year it is understandable that Porzingis is tired of losing and wanted out. The Knicks have not given him any indication that they can build a team around him so he went somewhere where he believes that can be done.
Now it seems as if that cycle is bound to repeat itself again. New York just lost the only asset they had to attract other talent. Cap space alone is probably not enough to lure someone like Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving to play in the Big Apple, but it may be enough for players like Jimmy Butler or Kemba Walker. I am by no means saying these are bad players, They are both extremely talented perennial Allstars. However, if those are your two best players your team is likely to be bounced out of the playoffs in the second round, and that’s a best case scenario. The only hope for the Knicks going forward is that they get a transcendent talent in the draft and can put young talent around that player. But the Knicks have not shown any signs that they know how to do that, so it looks like it’s going to be more of the same in the “Mecca of basketball” for the time being.