As the calendar turns to 2020, the New York Knicks need to look forward, courtesy of some very specific New Year’s resolutions.
A long and difficult 2019 is wrapping up for the New York Knicks.
No, New York didn’t receive the No. 1 pick in the draft and, subsequently, Duke superstar Zion Williamson. No, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving didn’t sign with the Knicks. They picked the Brooklyn Nets instead.
And, to be fair, the Knicks might have dodged a bullet or two. Williamson has yet to play for the New Orleans Pelicans after surgery for a torn meniscus. Durant is still rehabbing his torn Achilles and Irving hasn’t played since Nov. 14 with a shoulder injury. Oddly enough, the Nets went from 4-7 to 16-13 in his absence.
Meanwhile, the Knicks are in the middle of another lost season. Rookie RJ Barrett still has a lot of development ahead of him, David Fizdale was fired as head coach, and free-agent signee Julius Randle has been inconsistent.
In a nutshell, the Knicks once again have some soul searching to do in the new year. If management makes a concerted effort to meet the following goals in 2020, perhaps restless fans can finally have some hope.
Revamp the front office
The Knicks’ performance under president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry has been, well, less than ideal. The Kristaps Porzingis deal, despite the draft picks acquired, looks like little more than a salary dump now. The team’s draft history isn’t awful, but not groundbreaking either.
This means if the Knicks are serious about contending in the future, the front office needs a renovation worthy of House Hunters: Renovations. Howard Beck of Bleacher Report reported Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri was “intrigued” by joining the Knicks. Additionally, Frank Isola of The Athletic reports vilified owner James Dolan may finally be ready to move on from Mills, the only other common denominator in the Knicks’ two decades of struggles.
Which, by coincidence, leads to the next resolution!
Hire a top head coach
One key piece of information sticks out from Isola’s piece. Steve Mills hired David Fizdale over Mike Budenholzer.
Nothing against Fizdale, but Budenholzer was a longtime assistant to Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs. In other words: a team known for making player development an art form.
Budenholzer then twice won 60 games in five seasons coaching the Atlanta Hawks. He won 60 again last year, his first with the Milwaukee Bucks. Currently, Milwaukee is 27-5 and atop the Eastern Conference.
This means whomever Dolan hires to run his front office has one priority: seek out the right coach immediately. I even wrote a piece suggesting some options. Heck, maybe the new front office head and the new coach will be one and the same.
Either way, the Knicks are a young team and desperately need direction. If management decides RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and even Kevin Knox are the future, their continued progress starts with the coaching.
Make at least one major addition
Julius Randle is a fine player in his own way, but to say he is a franchise cornerstone or superstar is a stretch. Moreover, the rest of the Knicks’ roster around him is either young, a glorified role player, or both.
This means unless RJ Barrett suddenly learns how to shoot and is putting up between 25 and 30 points a game, the Knicks need a franchise player, preferably a point guard. Maybe the team will draft Cole Anthony or LaMelo Ball. Perhaps Fred VanVleet can be successfully targeted in free agency.
Maybe a much-belated Christmas miracle will happen and Anthony Davis will ditch LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers for the Big Apple.
But if we’re being honest, the Knicks are a true franchise player away from moving in the right direction. Adding a proper point guard would jumpstart the offense and maximize the potential of players like Barrett and Randle. Adding Davis would give New York immediate star power and potentially lure other players.
Regardless of what happens, the offseason is still a long way off and the Knicks have bigger priorities to address first.
Addressing those priorities starts on Jan. 1, 2020. A new decade is about to be upon us and after 20 years of suffering, both the team and fans deserve a fresh start.
If there’s ever a time for the Knicks and New Year’s resolutions, it’s now.