The NBA trade deadline came and went, with the New York Knicks coming up empty, a sign of the many problems that plague them.
So, too, did Carmelo Anthony, Kyle O’Quinn, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Jennings (who knew the Knicks had so many assets?), all of whom were rumored to depart New York via the trade deadline, vociferously so with Melo, who has weathered a relative maelstrom from the club’s president of basketball operations, Phil Jackson.
Around 3:30 on Thursday, reporting live on The Michael Kay Show, ESPN’s Ian Begley, a beat writer for the Knicks on the Worldwide Leader in Sports, told Kay and Don LaGreca that several iterations of a Rose-for-Ricky Rubio were on the table, including (a) Rose for Rubio straight up and (b) Rose and a fringe player for Rubio and a rotation player or a pick.
Reportedly, the Knicks were on board with a straight-up swap, but the Minnesota Timberwolves balked at the eleventh hour.
And so Rose, one-time MVP who went absent without leave for a spell in January, an enticing trade piece because of his expiring contract, suited up in blue-and-orange during Thursday night’s 119-104 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, whose owner Dan Gilbert entertained Cleveland native Charles Oakley with courtside seats in response to Oak’s recent falling out with James Dolan.
The notion of several European players gelling as a unit at the Garden, with Rubio competently running point through a series of pick-and-rolls, distributing to the likes of Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, and Mindaugas Kuzminskas, was, alas, a mere pipedream, despite its being a compelling prospect.
Bringing aboard Rubio would have amounted to the Knicks paying the Spaniard $29 million over the next two seasons; keeping Rose allows his money to come off the books this summer, with New York seemingly expressing little desire to retain him in the offseason.
But given the amount of money Rose’s departure saves the Knicks on their 2017-2018 payroll, who as a prospective free agent would ever desire to come to New York?
The 2017 free agent possibilities—from Blake Griffin to Stephen Curry, Serge Ibaka, George Hill, Jeff Teague, Jrue Holiday, and J.J. Redick—are not all that enticing, especially considering Curry is likely a mainstay with Golden State, Griffin will command a max contract when he isn’t worthy of one, and a bevy of middling guards round out the list.
The year 2018 is a different story, with Kevin Durant, Isaiah Thomas, Chris Paul, Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, Kyle Lowry, and DeMarcus Cousins serving as featured members of that season’s free agent class, barring their re-signing with their respective clubs.
Regardless, the Knicks have sadly maintained a “wait until next year” mentality since 2010 with free agents, while claiming respectable, but hardly impressive, returns with Robin Lopez, O’Quinn, Lee, and Jennings during Phil’s tenure.
As presently constructed, the Knicks’ roster is not good enough to be the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, nor are they bad enough to land a top-five lottery pick in this June’s NBA Draft. Given how Dolan and Phil have treated players of today and yesteryear, the Knicks find themselves in NBA purgatory, with this season’s pick potentially falling outside the top-ten, contracts for a putrid player (Joakim Noah) and an aging superstar (Melo) comprising the payroll, and players not feeling so inclined to play in New York in light of the fading draw of the World’s Most Famous Arena.
In year three of his contract with the Knicks, Phil Jackson has a number of poor transactions on his docket, with one windfall (the KP pick) to his name. When his deal with the Knicks runs out in 2019 (according to CBS Sports via Bleacher Report, he may even re-sign), the 2018 free agency class and five-year window without a title, which will extend the franchise’s championship drought to 46 years, will have passed him by.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Knicks struck out, erroneously so, on deadline day. Ultimately, here are four occurrences that doomed them both on Thursday and beyond.