The New York Knicks have been the doormat of the NBA for the better part of the 21st century. No other team has been the butt of as many jokes as New York. That can all change with a perfect offseason.
The next three to four months will go a long way in shaping the future of the franchise. The New York Knicks need to find stability at the coaching position. They also possess two of the top 36 picks in June’s draft. Scott Perry and Steve Mills can use free agency to finish molding out the roster.
Here is how a perfect offseason would look like for the Knickerbockers:
Finding the right person to lead the troops
This will be the most important decision that the New York Knicks will make this offseason. Since 2000, they have had 11 different head coaches. Whoever they hire would be the fourth head coach that Kristaps Porzingis has had since being drafted in 2015. The Knicks need to find someone who can develop young players during a rebuild and mold them into contenders.
Jay Wright has led the Villanova Wildcats to two national championships in the last three years. The 56-year old has spent the last 17 seasons at Villanova. His record during that time is 422-165. That includes five 30-win seasons. Getting Wright to leave his cozy position will be no easy task. New York does, however, have some factors working in their favor. The proximity between New York and the city he loves, Philadelphia. It is a one hour and 21-minute commute by train or an hour trip by plane. They also possess deep enough pockets to throw enough money at him to where he could not refuse.
Drafting the right prospect
The New York Knicks are currently slotted for the ninth pick in June’s NBA Draft. This draft is deep enough for them to find a star at the ninth position as long as they do their homework. Mikal Bridges checks a lot of boxes for New York. The only question is if he will be available when they are on the clock.
Whether on offense or defense, the Knicks biggest issue has been their play on the perimeter. The team only attempted 23.3 three-point attempts per game this season. That ranked 29th out of a possible 30 teams. They only converted on 35.2 percent of those shots which ranked 27th.
Bridges averaged 5.8 three-point attempts per game this season. He knocked down 42.0 percent of those shots. His 6-foot-7, 200-pound frame should improve the way New York defends the perimeter. He averaged 1.6 steals in his last season at Villanova.
Moves to the current roster
Enes Kanter, Kyle O’Quinn and Ron Baker all possess a player option for next season. In a perfect world, all three players would opt-out. But let us be realistic, Baker is not walking away from $4.5 million. The other two though could very well opt-out. The Knicks should re-sign O’Quinn to a four-year deal worth around $34 million. If they are lucky enough to have Kanter opt-out, then they need to let him walk.
The next player on the current roster who needs to be addressed is Courtney Lee. His current career path does not line up with the path that the Knicks are on. Lee can be an asset to a playoff contending team. New York, on the other hand, will be contending for a better lottery position.
Ideally, the Knicks would receive a late first round pick for Lee, but the bottom line should be shedding that contract no matter the return. These moves to the current roster would create around $26.6 million in cap space. That would free the New York Knicks up to make a move in free agency.
Finishing off in free agency
Free agency is the last bridge to cross during the offseason. Do not ask me why the draft is before free agency. That is a discussion for another day. Now that the Knicks have freed up some cap space, they can focus on finding the perfect frontcourt complement to Porzingis. That player is restricted free agent, Julius Randle.
Being a restricted free agent means that Randle’s current team, the Los Angeles Lakers can match any offer made to him. Los Angeles has also expressed interest in signing two max contracts this offseason. The odds of them being able to do that and retain Randle are quite slim. The 2017-18 season was a career year for the 6-foot-9, 250-pound big man. His 16.1 points per game and 55.8 field goal percentage were career highs. He also averaged 8.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.
The New York Knicks are smack dab in the middle of a complete rebuild. They already have their franchise centerpiece with Porzingis. If they can nail a perfect offseason, they could find themselves right back in the playoff hunt sooner than later.