Articles Free Agency 2019

The Knicks, False Hope and Apologetic Roots Rock

I should’ve known

We believed and didn’t see

Through the lies he told us all

They led him to his endless fall

I should’ve known

I should’ve known

JD and the Straight Shot – ‘I Should’ve Known’

These words are artistically weaved by the ever noble leader known as James Lawrence Dolan…to much deserved jest and displeasure.

He’s talking about his friendship with noted sex offender and Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein. Dolan is apologising for not intervening in the troublesome behaviour of Weinstein in the only way he knows how, through apologetic blues/roots music.

His controversial personal life aside, the lyrics are actually incredibly insightful in that they articulate how someone can believe in someone or something so deeply that they continue to ignore their glaring inadequacy.

A more pesimistic reading is that it is a tale of an optimistic and wilful ignorance, predicated on the enjoyment of an ideal rather than the truth that stares us in the face.

In another reading, it’s the perfect summation of how we should look at the Knicks every time we get excited about them.

Image result for james dolan

We really should have known that any NBA team owned by James Dolan (pictured above) would once again fail to do anything particularly competent.

After twenty years of incredibly ineptitude, the Knicks have seemingly completed their miserable journey to become the second most important team in New York, as the Nets have entirely swept the Knicks offseasons plans from underneath their feet.

But we should have come to expect this, because it’s exactly what the Knicks have been doing over the last twenty years – promising us the world only to fall flat on their face, hit the reset button and promise us the world all over again.

After the departure of Ewing before the 2000 season, the Knicks were built around Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell, making the playoffs and retooling the next season by adding Antonio McDyess. The team fell on their face, missing the playoffs two years in a row.

But hey teams miss the playoffs sometimes and the Knicks were in the Eastern Conference Finals only three seasons ago. No reason to panic so far.

Plus the Knicks were about to bring in one of the great NBA point guards of all time to help rebuild the franchise… Pistons legend Isaiah Thomas.

We believed and didn’t see.

Image result for isaiah thomas knicks

President Thomas helped guide the Knicks to a miraculous 39-43 record, somehow making the playoffs to be swept by the Nets (there’s a sweet Tim Thomas-Kenyon Martin feud that starts in this series too). This would be the last time the Knicks make the playoffs until 2011 (we’ll get to Melo) and would feature some of the most notoriously overpaid Knicks of all time.

Stephon Marbury, who was pegged to be the player of the franchise was already on the team in that made the playoffs and amounted to very little with the Knicks.

The New Patrick Ewing Eddy Curry would get paid $60 million over 5 years to put up a 15 and 5 average for the Knicks while battling significant heath conditions, while the Knicks punted on multiple first rounders to get him, hampering their ability to bring in cheap young players.

Image result for Larry Brown Eddy Curry Stephon Marbury

The Knicks elite coach in charge of directing young talent to success Larry Brown was bought at $18.5 after coaching one season and Isaiah (who was coaching the team as the team president after Brown left) faced sexual harassment charges as we neared 2008.

But then Dolan brought in Donnie Walsh, who had built up formidable Indiana Pacers teams in the past, to lead the rebuild of the once great franchise. This was Isaiah’s fault, a horrible team president who didn’t know what he was doing. Donnie was a pro.

We believed and didn’t see

Image result for Donnie Walsh James DOlan

Donnie fired Thomas as coach, bringing in well regarded head coach of the Suns Mike D’Antoni. The Knicks began to retool their roster with young, cheap contracts in an effort to clear cap space for a top flight free agent like LeBron, Wade or Bosh.

But by this time a wheelchair laden Donnie Walsh was nowhere near the closer that Pat Riley was, losing all three to the heat in the summer of 2010. The meeting apparently was less than inspiring, unable to woo any of the three into joining the Knicks.

Instead the Knicks ended up with Amare Stoudimire, an All-Star centre from the Suns who had a question mark about how healthy he could remain years into his 5 year, $100 million dollar contract before the 2010/11 season.

But this was progress, the Knicks had a slew of young players and an All-Star talent playing with the coach that made him one.

Image result for amare stoudemire james dolan donnie walsh

The Knicks had a good start to the season before pushing for Carmelo Anthony and ultimately trading much of their young talent for him midway through the season (despite the fact they they likely could have waited and signed him as a free agent at season’s end but I digress).

Along with Chauncy Billups, the Knicks would go on to a 42-40 finish to the season and be eliminated in four games by the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. But again, this was progress. The Knicks now had Melo, Billups and Amare. Everything was shaping up for the Knicks to be a contender.

Image result for carmelo anthony chauncey billups knicks

We believed and didn’t see.

Donnie left and was replaced by something called a Glen Grunwald, who brought in championship winning center Tyson Chandler and the Knicks seemed primed to make a significant push in the playoffs.

In the Lockout season of 2011/12, the KNicks made the playoffs again and were eliminated in five games by the Heat, as tensions between D’Antoni and Melo began to boil over, Amare started to break down physically and Linsanity ensued and then was quickly extinguished by a coaching change with Mike Woodson.

But again the Knicks made the playoffs and some young talent in Jeremy Lin, Landry Fields and Iman Shumpert, a nice core of Melo, Chandler and JR Smith and a stable enough coach to make it all work.

Things were looking up.

We believed and didn’t see.

Image result for Carmelo Anthony Tyson Chandler JR Smith

The Knicks lost Fields and Lin in restricted free agency, prioritising older talents like Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby. Amare continued to break down and the Knicks abandoned any semblence of a balenced and prolonged effort at reabuilding.

The Knicks would go on to finish second in the conference in 2012/13 and be eliminated by the Pacers in 6 games in the second round. Many of the players who were on the team weren’t the next season, raising concerns as to the lack of depth now presented to the Knicks. Woodson was also subsequently let go from the team as a new front office came to New York.

A giant beacon of hope named Phil Jackson.

Image result for phil jackson knicks

Oh how we should have known.

After failing to make the layoffs in 2013/14, Derek Fischer was hired as the head coach and was instructed to implement the once unbeatable but now outdated triangle offence, also doing away with the entire coaching staff that had taken the Knicks to the 2 seed a year prior.

The Knicks also traded Chandler and Raymond Felton for Shane Larkin, José Calderón, Samuel Dalembert, and Wayne Ellington, along with Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo in the draft.

In the worst season in franchise history, Amare became a shell of his former self, JR Smith was buried and shipped out of town along with Shumpert, Melo un-apologetically padded his stats and woeful lineups trotted out onto the court in MSG featuring Andrea Bargnani, Langston Galloway and Jose Calderon.

Then the Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis in the draft and fired head coach Derek Fisher on their way to only 32 wins under Kurt Rambis in the 2015/16 season.

But the Knicks had cap space and hope, retooling by adding Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee to the squad to form what Rose called a super-team. This team was built for the triangle and was going to be built around elite talent of the chemistry of having Rose and Noah in the same locker room. Here come the Knicks baby!

Image result for Derrick ROse Joakim NOah knicks

Wow we really should have known about this one, as the bloated salary Knicks stumbled to only 31 wins in the 2016/17 season which featured Derrick Rose going missing on the team to go home, Phil Jackson getting into a weird beef with LeBron James and ultimately the dismissal of Jackson who had become a joke around the league.

But hey, the Knicks got rid of the triangle, they got rid of an emotionally depleted Derek Rose and could pin their future hopes on Kristaps Porzingis, a modern NBA big man who was tall, long, athletic and highly skilled.

The Knicks moved Melo on to the Thunder and began to collect younger talent like Tim Hardaway Jr. (who they overpaid and had previously had on their roster), Emmanuel Mudiay (who played the some position as their young guard Frank Ntilikina) and Doug McDermott.

It was all about a future focus, and poor regular season performace didn’t matter because the Knicks were going to build it slowly.

Unlike how they had built in the past, the Knicks weren’t going to desperately sign crappy players to bloated deals. This was all leading to a great team built around KP.

Image result for kristaps porzingis tim hardaway

Kecin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Alonzo Trier were brought to New York in the offseason of 2018, continuing the rebuild effort. The Knicks also caught wind of a potential Kevin Durant signing in the 2019 off season, so things were looking incredibly up.

But holy shit how did we not know the KNicks would fuck this one up.

The Knicks completely exposed themselves by trading away Porzingis to help dump salary for a signing they were pretty sure was going (Durant) to happen and open up cap space for a second max free agent. The Knicks tanked hard, matching their awful 17 win record from a few years ago and got RJ Barrett with the third pick in the draft.

Image result for rj barrett knicks

Then the original sin of trading Porzingis came back to haunt them, as they struck out on:

  • A potential Anthony Davis trade, being totally out bid by the Lakers.
  • Kyrie and KD chose the Nets over the Knicks, because the Knicks wouldn’t max KD and the Nets are a much more competent franchise.
  • Kemba chose Boston.
  • Butler chose Miami.

But hey, the Knicks had cap space after all, so they signed Julius Randle, Bobby Portis and Taj Gibson to a combined $138 million (even tho they all play the same position), added “shooters” Reggie Bullock and Wayne Ellington and punted they cap space to 2021 when Giannis will become available.

How much better is this team if they just waited until this off-season to make a move on KP (a restricted free agent they could have kept)? How about if they kept cap space and elected to take crappy contracts from other teams along with more picks (like the Nets did and the Grizzles are doing now)?

The inability to look at the landscape of the NBA reeks of ineptitude, leaving us befuddled as to how a team can be so idiotic for so long.

So this time, I refuse to falsely believe the Knicks can do anything until they do.

No one is coming the Knicks in 2021 of any importance.

No one.

Zip.

Nada.

RJ Barrett will likely either have a good but not notable career in New York. Maybe even make an All-Star team before being traded or leaving as a result of crappy front office strategy.

The Knicks may even have a good run and make the playoffs, only to flame out and die spectacularly in front of our very eyes.

All the while, anyone silly enough to be dupped by any fresh reset pushed forward by a negligent Knicks front office will ultimately end up saying to themselves what Jimmy Dolan says in that funky root rock tune.

I should’ve known. I should’ve known.

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