J.R. Smith headlines a list of ex-New York Knicks that fans should keep an eye when the NBA resumes play in Orlando.
Although the New York Knicks won’t be traveling to Orlando, FL to take part in the NBA’s 2020 restart, there will be a bunch of ex-Knicks down in the bubble. Most notably, J.R. Smith is linking up with his old pal LeBron James as the Los Angeles Lakers prepare to go on a deep run to the NBA Finals.
The best season of Smith’s career came in 2013 when he took home Sixth Man of the Year honors as a Knick. Unfortunately, those Knicks were ousted by the Indiana Pacers in the second round of the playoffs, but Knicks fans still have a soft spot for J.R.
Smith is one of the new additions who the Lakers are hoping can replace the production of Avery Bradley, who is one of the players opting out of the 2020 NBA restart in Orlando.
It’s not exactly the same as watching the orange and blue go to the playoffs, but here are three more ex-Knicks to watch when the NBA resumes play.
Danilo Gallinari — Oklahoma City Thunder
Gallinari is a special case. Once upon a time, the stretch-four was a major part of the Knicks’ exciting young core, but he was shipped out west before he reached his full potential. Of course, we all remember that Gallo was a major piece of the blockbuster trade that netted the Knicks Carmelo Anthony.
The Italian forward left the Knicks on good terms and could be in for a reunion in the future. New York is reportedly interested in bringing in a four who can stretch the floor with the three-ball. Gallinari is shooting 40.9% from downtown on 7.3 attempts per game and could be a natural fit in the frontcourt alongside rim-running extraordinaire Mitchell Robinson.
Even if the Knicks don’t pursue Gallinari in free agency, Knicks fans have every reason to root for the Italian sharpshooter.
Kristaps Porzingis — Dallas Mavericks
For most Knicks fans, watching Kristaps Porzingis compete in the playoffs will be painful, but it could lead to satisfying schadenfreude if the Dallas Mavericks flame out early. Porzingis and Luka Doncic are relatively inexperienced when it comes to star duos in the NBA. It’s impossible to know how they’ll hold up in a seven-game series.
As it stands, the Mavs are matched up with the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round. If that matchup holds, Porzingis and his pals could be in for a rude awakening.
Knicks fans are always looking for any excuse to bash Porzingis. If the Latvian sharpshooter lays an egg in his first-ever playoff series, there will be plenty of fodder for New Yorkers. “He can’t win when it counts” is likely going to be a common refrain among Knicks fans.
With all that said, Porzingis and Doncic are destined for playoff success in Dallas. It probably won’t be this year, but it’s coming eventually. Knicks fans should enjoy Porzingis’ failures while they still can.
Enes Kanter — Boston Celtics
Enes Kanter is another case where Knicks fans are hoping to experience some schadenfreude. The outspoken center quickly became a fan-favorite in his first year in New York, but those good feelings went away in year two. Complaints about playing time and frustration over mounting losses led to a buyout.
After a short stint with the Portland Trail Blazers, Kanter signed with the Boston Celtics. Although relegated to a bench role, Kanter was a key guy for Boston this season, providing energy and rebounding for head coach Brad Stevens and the Celtics.
But as many Knicks fans are always quick to point out, Kanter is a guy with slow feet and an easy target in the pick-and-roll. In the playoffs, where hunting out the weak link is commonplace, Kanter can get run off the court in a hurry.
Can Stevens scheme around this and keep Kanter in the rotation? Only time will tell.