MSG, NYC – The New York Knicks failed to land a big fish in free agency and settled for a bunch of guppies. After trading Kristaps Porzingis and clearing a bunch of cap space for two max players, they came up empty. On the other side of the arena, the New York Rangers were able to land the biggest fish in the pond in Artemi Panarin, who turned down more money from the Islanders. It was a stunning first day of free agency in New York City, as the best free agents in both sports spurned one New York team to sign with another.
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” – Woody Allen
The Knicks Whiff on Durant and Kyrie
The story was that the Knicks and Jimmy Dolan didn’t want to offer Kevin Durant the max deal due to his injury. But conflicting reports said he just wanted to play with his friends. Once Kyrie decided on Brooklyn, KD was gone too.
With the surf and turf off the menu, the Knicks settled for an all-you-can-eat buffet of mediocrity with Julius Randle, Reggie Bullock, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, and Wayne Ellington. Quantity over quality, I guess. Randle is a nice player on the offensive end but none of these guys are going to make you forget about KD. Role players don’t work if you don’t have a lead.
Did they Dodge a Bullet?
The best part about this whole thing was Stephen A. Smith’s epic meltdown. But maybe it’s not as bad as people think.
With the fan base starving for a decent team, no one would have blamed the Knicks for rolling the dice on KD just to give them some hope. But guys don’t always fully recover from this injury. It’s a big risk.
Durant is only 30, but he has a lot of wear on his tires as he has been in the league since he was 19. He’s averaged about 37 minutes for 12 seasons and over 40 minutes per game in 139 career playoff games. That’s a lot of games from a guy who’s not exactly stout of frame.
He might not be the same player. With all those minutes, it wouldn’t be a surprise if this is the start of his body breaking down. But even if he loses he some of his explosiveness, he’ll still beat able to shoot over anyone. He’ll get his shots.
What about Kyrie? Well, the Celtics couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. The Celtics were one game away from the finals the prior year and he blew the whole thing up. You know, like he did with the Cavs. And I didn’t even mention his iffy knees.
Julius Randle averaged over 21 points a game last year with a shooting percentage over 50%. Not many guys did that, but he doesn’t play much D. The Knicks gave him a two year deal with a team option for a third.
The third year is the key because all of the guys they brought on were signed to two year deals. Next year’s free agent class is is looking lackluster, but headlined by Giannis Antetokounmpo, the following year looks better.
It seems like the Knicks actually had a Plan B. If they didn’t hit it big, sign some solid role players on two year deals. Aim to play solid, competent basketball and show the league some stability and maybe threaten for a playoff spot. Then maybe they’ll have more luck in the summer of 2021. Patience Knicks’ fans. Patience.
It’s not the worst plan in the world.
“Leap and the net will appear.” — Zen Saying
The Rangers Go All In
The Rangers shifted hard out of rebuilding mode by signing Panarin for $81.5 million over seven years. Once they lock down recent acquisition and restricted free agent Jacob Trouba and their own RFAs in Buchnevich, Deangelo and Lemiuex, they’ll be pretty close to capped out.
They’ve already dumped useful forward Jimmy Vesey for a few cans of stick wax and they’ll likely have to move some more salary to give themselves a little flexibility. Chris Kreider could be next on the chopping block.
Still Probably at Least a Year Away
The two years remaining on the big money deals of overpaid veterans Shattenkirk, Staal, Smith and (cough) Lundqvist (cough) will make it tough for them to acquire needed depth to become a true contender. But this could be a playoff team. They’ll need a return to form from Hank and a big jump from several youngsters to make a move into the elite class.
I think that’s more likely to happen next year when guys like Kappo, Kravtsov, Fox, Chytil, Andersson, Hajek, and Howden will have a(nother) year under their sweaters. It makes more for them to buy out some bad contracts next summer. They could use the money to fill in the holes in the roster and make a push for a Cup Run.
Things are looking up for the Rangers…
This has been the way it has gone for Dolan’s two teams. One big explosion and one giant dud.
But don’t fret, Knicks’ fans. Dolan hired the right guys to run the Rangers and got the hell out of the way. Maybe he’s finally got the right guys in place for the Knicks. Now he just needs to go on a never ending world tour with his awesome band.