NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 29: Mitchell Robinson #23 and Maurice Harkless #3 of the New York Knicks celebrate in the final minute of the game against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden on February 29, 2020 in New York City.The New York Knicks defeated the Chicago Bulls 125-115.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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The New York Knicks must decide how to spend their long offseason since they won’t be part of the restarted NBA season.

Josh Benjamin

The NBA season is back, but the New York Knicks won’t be a part of it.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday that the league’s Board of Governors approved a plan to resume the season in Orlando next month. Per the agreement, 22 teams will resume play at that point.

Unfortunately, the Knicks are not one of them, as their season will conclude with a subpar record of 21-45. Not only is that a four-win improvement from last year, but New York finished without the league’s worst record. Considering the team’s failed summer last year, plus coach David Fizdale’s firing in December, things could’ve certainly been worse.

But the fact remains: this season was another rough one for the Knicks, and missing out on the campaign’s restart is par for the course. New York is always a bridesmaid, but never a bride. Instead of Cinderella and going from rags to the belle of the ball, the Knicks are the mice.

And even though the season was, on the whole, a bust, the Knicks should be motivated by their extended offseason. Sad as it is to watch New York’s season end this way, fans should be excited about the next steps.

Hire the right head coach

First things first: new team president Leon Rose and general manager Scott Perry need to determine the team’s next coach. Assuming interim coach Mike Miller isn’t hired full-time, the next man will be the 14th Knicks coach since 2000. Fans and ownership alike expect results from Rose and his front office, so the new hire must be one that inspires confidence in the future.

Thankfully, for the Knicks, this process already seems to be well underway. Per Ian Begley of SNY, the Knicks will interview four candidates: Miller, Tom Thibodeau, Kenny Atkinson, and Mike Woodson. Each of these men would be a quality hire for New York.

Miller, though not a big-name hire, knows how to develop youth. Thibodeau succeeded with the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves and is also a former Knicks assistant. Atkinson is another former Knicks assistant who recently enjoyed success coaching the Brooklyn Nets before stepping down in March. Woodson, though something of an out-of-the-box candidate, was the last coach to lead New York to a playoff series win back in 2013.

Aside from Miller, who’s better suited to be an assistant on his successor’s staff, each of these men would be a great hire. Thibodeau’s offense is outdated and he has a rep for exhausting his players, but his results speak for themselves. Woodson made fans think the Knicks were back during his short tenure but was ultimately undone by locker room drama and Steve Mills’ return as team president. Atkinson’s offense is what the Knicks need, but management would need to be patient with him.

All in all, the Knicks have plenty of time to make a decision, so expect Rose and his team to do their homework accordingly.

Prepare for the NBA Draft

From an NBA Draft standpoint, it’s a great time to be a Knicks fan. First, the team possesses a lottery pick (again) and can expect to make a top-10 selection. But thanks to the Marcus Morris trade, the Knicks additionally own the Los Angeles Clippers’ 2020 first-round selection.

But who will New York choose when their turn comes? The most glaring need is a scoring point guard. The Knicks finished the season 29th in scoring and 27th in three-point percentage. Those numbers won’t fly in today’s league, where elite scorers like Stephen Curry and James Harden thrive.

However, if you saw my NBA mock lottery a couple of weeks back, you noticed the Knicks went a different route and drafted Dayton’s Obi Toppin. Assuming the lottery applies to teams’ individual records and the Knicks pick at No. 6 overall accordingly, drafting Toppin could happen. Though the last thing New York needs is another power forward, sometimes selecting the best player available is the best move.

With that said, expect Rose and Perry to vet a number of different prospects at various positions. Having multiple first-round draft picks is a luxury and the front office should take full advantage of its privileged position. Who knows? Maybe one of the picks is traded in an effort to land a superstar.

Plan for the offseason and be patient

With the restarted season set to end no later than October, this year’s NBA offseason will be vastly different. Aside from the NBA Draft Lottery and NBA Draft respectively occurring in August and October, the rest is anyone’s guess.

This is why the best thing the Knicks can do is come up with an offseason plan and then take their time. As to the approach, Rose carries options. Los Angeles Lakers star forward Anthony Davis will hit the market at season’s end. Before the 2019 trade to the Lakers, Davis’ agent Rich Paul explored a potential trade to the Knicks. As of now, with the Lakers at the top of the Western Conference, Davis has yet to sign an extension.

Nevertheless, the Knicks have banked on signing free agents to max contracts too many times. Instead, Rose should figure out who of Bobby Portis, Reggie Bullock, and others should have their options picked up prior to next season. The current goal is building a culture as opposed to just making a quick fix with a major free-agent acquisition. If Rose must land a star, it’s better for him to use draft assets to trade for one who needs a change of scenery.

Long story short: the Knicks have all the time in the world to plan their offseason. Now, let’s see how they use it.

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