For a franchise that hasn’t been fun to watch since the six-week Linsanity stretch in early 2012, I find it difficult to explain why I continue to be so absorbed with the daily doings of the New York Knicks.
They haven’t made the playoffs the last four seasons. They play no defense.
When the Knicks have the ball, Melo plants himself motionless far from the hoop. His teammates (including the hustling, lanky star of the future Kristaps Porzingis) dart to spots on the floor that reflect pre-planned plays that include screens and quick passes. Carmelo inevitably torpedoes the connected set of actions by forcing a clank early in the shot clock.
It’s losing basketball. It’s aesthetically unpleasing. Yet because they play at the Garden I guess, you can’t even get a cheap ticket for home games.
Phil came on board in March 2014 and made it one of his first orders of business to hand Melo a five-year deal ($124 million) despite knowing full well that #7 was a me-first guy who had zero interest in strapping on the heavy pack of rebuild mode, not to mention learning or doing the triangle.
Worse, Phil allowed the Melo deal to include a no-trade clause which further cemented the blunder.
All blame on Phil for the Melo decision and the impossible head wind he created for himself in New York. I think basketball fans attach a big footnote to Phil’s legacy now – not just for the Melo deal but for the cranky hermit-like behavior and out-of-left-field Twitter bizarreness he occasionally spewed during his three seasons here.
Taunting Porzingis in the week before the 2017 draft (and reportedly the issuance of an internal threat to outright cut Melo) forced the Knick owner to get rid of Phil with two years, 24 mil left on his deal.
So, out with the Zen and in with Scott Perry who seems like a sound, dues-paid hoops mind, although he lacks the full organizational control that’s almost impossible to get from Dolan and the Garden.
One of Phil’s last moves before Perry replaced him was the selection of French point guard Frank Ntilikina (pronounced nee-lee-kee-nuh) at eight overall in the most recent draft. The Knicks need a point guard and got a potentially great one in Ntilikina. He’s not a big scorer but he’ll pass and play D. He has a freakish seven-foot wingspan and comes off as a really thoughtful guy.
And now, because Melo outlasted Phil at MSG, Carmelo apparently feels more inclined to waive the no-trade and move on. I don’t care where he goes. I just want him out. And if there’s no deal to be made, I’d hope Perry would convince Dolan to agree to buy a Melo walk-away for nothing in return.
On top of the Melo drama, news of Kyrie Irving’s unhappiness in Cleveland includes the tantalizing tidbit he’d like to play for the Knicks among others. Pundits have created scenarios that attempt to square both trade value and cap hit equations between the Cavs and Knicks but it’s hard to believe Perry could land a top five point in the League in exchange for an over-the-hill motionless ball hog. And please, don’t trade future first rounders. In the last eight drafts, the Knicks have only had first round picks in four of them. As the Nets will tell you, that’s a sure-fire recipe to bankrupt the talent of an organization.
I want a patient rebuild. I want a rivalry with the up-and-coming Sixers and soon-to-be great Celtics. And I want the Knicks to someday be a team that passes and plays defense. The Knicks own all their first round picks going forward. I’d part with one of them if it meant two years of Kyrie but otherwise, hold onto them.
Speaking of the Knicks, Greta Kline wore Knickerbocker logo socks during the Frankie Cosmos performance at Pitchfork Fest in Chicago the weekend before last. Performing before a huge audience at Union Park, Kline and her bandmates seemed in awe of scope of it all. Said Kline near the end of the set: “This is really a big show for us. A little spooky. A little too big, I would say. Probably the biggest we’ll ever play.” I caught the webcast replay on You Tube. The Frankie set was excellent. It sounded great.