What’s left to say about the Knicks? They struck out big time in free agency last summer, which was followed by a letter apologizing for striking out big time in free agency. Still, there was a shred of optimism about the season. They managed not to compound their problems by overpaying a mid-level player, and they drafted a talented young prospect with a lot of upside in R.J. Barrett.
In fact, the Knicks have several intriguing prospects on their roster in Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, and others. But so far, that hasn’t added up to much as they’ve shown little on-court progress and face another squandered season with very little to feel good about. But since this is the holiday season, we thought we’d put together a little wish list for them that might help brighten their spirits if they can be gifted with a few of these items that would go a long way toward their goals and aspirations.
#1. Front office accountability
Former coach David Fizdale was forced to shoulder all the blame for the Knicks’ early season woes, and while there was valid criticism about both his schemes and rotations, he’s been saddled with a roster that doesn’t make much sense on paper. That responsibility belongs solely to general manager Scott Perry and president Steve Mills.
After the brutal 2-8 start, they called a press conference that was clearly the first step in removing Fizdale, which is precisely what happened just a few weeks later. Perry and Mills are still around, but it now appears that owner James Dolan has his sights set on Masai Ujiri, though it’s unclear if the Raptors president would find the situation in New York worth exploring. Regardless, some semblance of accountability among their executives is long overdue here.
#2. A roster that makes sense
The Knicks have somehow created a logjam in both the front court and the back court. They basically have four power forwards and four point guards, all vying for significant playing time. Just finding some consistency in their lineup configurations was a big hurdle for Fizdale, and the same will be true for Mike Miller, for however long he manages to stay on as head coach.
But now that we’re in the midst of trade season, the Knicks have several assets they could conceivably package to make an attractive offer to potential suitors. Guys like Julius Randle, Marcus Morris, Dennis Smith Jr., and the perpetually available Frank Ntilikina are all names that have popped up in recent trade rumors, and this could be an opportunity for the Knicks to at least bring some manageability to the roster.
The biggest issue with the Knicks has been their lack of foresight and a clear organizational philosophy. For the past decade plus, everything they do has been either reactionary or a stop-gap measure. They’ve set their sights on free agent white whales and then overcompensated in a way that’s hurt them in the long term, they’ve fired coaches in an attempt to shake things up when it starts to go south and get rattled by all the instability, and so on and so forth.
What they need is some long-term future-scaping that includes clear, achievable goals in the areas of roster construction, player development, recruiting, style of play, and organizational culture from top to bottom. The current personnel hasn’t achieved any of that, and the Knicks won’t be able to rehabilitate their reputation and work their way back into respectability until they make some serious wholesale changes in these departments.