It was barely over a week ago that I had decent expectations for once for the upcoming Knicks campaign. They didn't throw away the third pick, taking Duke's RJ Barrett. There were significant links to All-Star free agents. The playoffs weren't completely out of the question and I was content with that. Then Sunday came through my basketball life like a tornado made entirely of barbed wire and AIDS needles.
With each passing Woj Bomb and Shams Slam (not an official slogan yet), I saw the 2019-2020 season slowly begin to fade to black. Now don't get it twisted, I had long accepted the fact that the combination of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving weren't coming to the Garden. But man I had hoped for at least somebody resembling a franchise building block. Kemba Walker went to Boston. Jimmy Butler is off to Miami. Tobias Harris is staying put in Philadelphia and Al Horford is joining him. The hits just kept on coming. During this trying time, the Knicks focused their clearly insane attention on seemingly trying to sign every free agent power forward available.
Julius Randle is a really good basketball player. He had his best season as a pro with the Pelicans last year and looks ready to take another step. But the Knicks aren't making the playoffs, never mind winning a fucking series, with Randle as their best player. And yes, at this very moment, regardless of your thoughts on Kevin Knox and/or Mitchell Robinson, Julius Randle is the best player on the New York Knicks.
But it wasn't just the Randle signing that got my guff. Compounding that deal with the contracts to Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis made the day that much more confusing. Spare me the Gibson locker room leader talk. Put your Bobby Portis can score when motivated diatribes where a squirrel sticks its nuts. The deals for Reggie Bullock, Elfrid Payton, and Wayne Ellington now take that final sliver of max player hope off the table. It is amazing what Knicks apologists can talk themselves into disappointment after disappointment. I am pleading with someone to give me a club with a higher percentage of fans with battered fan syndrome the past two decades than the New York Knickerbockers.
But so far, and presumably all summer, the Knicks are only locking themselves into short term deals. Two years has been the max, that is of course taking into account that Randle's third year is a team option reportedly. This is a shrewd move by a front office who've made few over the past twenty-odd years. I can give credit where credit is due but this is where the commendations subside. There is a facade that over the next two years the Knicks will all of a sudden become a destination "again." I put again in quotes because IT NEVER HAS BEEN. This new narrative is what pisses me off more than any of the signings that have been announced to date.
Paul George is not coming to New York. DeMar DeRozan isn't either. And let me be another person to tell you, Knicks fan to Knicks fan, GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO IS NOT COMING TO THE NEW YORK KNICKS BY ANY WAYS OR MEANS. This was New York's one chance to become relevant again. As much as I can be turned off Kyrie Irving's antics, he was our ticket to seeing one of the top twenty players in the history of the game donning this club's iconic colors. Kevin Durant's injury is scary, but it isn't a stretch to say that even a 70% Durant is one of the best Knicks of all-time. It just isn't. And for this franchise to not even get to the table with him because they focused their attention elsewhere is going to go down as one of the most Keystone Cop-py moments in the recent history of a team that has them more than I have burps while chugging a Diet Coke.
I hope I am proven wrong. I hope that Sunday was just a smudge on Scott Perry's road map to returning the New York Knicks to some semblance of competitiveness and eventually championship contention. But nah, that just won't be the case as long as James Dolan owns the team (oh sorry should I say is the CEO/COO whatever of the team) and Steve Mills plays any part in the front office. Players love playing in Madison Square Garden...for the opposition. Until Dolan sells, which he never will, he will be the deterrent to any player of consequence ever signing with my supported franchise. I am looking forward to a copy/paste press release similar to the gem below come this time in two years. Until then you can find me looking at way too early mock drafts and trying to forget about this past weekend.
Photo credit: James Dolan (rollingstone.com)
Embedded tweet from Mark Stein @TheSteinLine AND YES I KNOW THAT THERE WAS A REVISED VERSION OF THE STATEMENT BUT I DON'T CARE