The New York Knicks have not been very good the last couple of seasons. We all know this. Phil Jackson has been constantly ridiculed for “not doing enough” in free agency, especially due to his 5 year, $60 million salary. However, this summer, things have been a little bit different.
Out of nowhere, the Knicks acquired Derrick Rose from the Chicago Bulls. After years of struggling with subpar point guards including Chris Duhon, Raymond Felton (in his second stint) and Jose Calderon, they couldn’t find a good player to fill the position. Of course we know Rose has had his share of injuries over the last few years. But he only has one year left on his contract and hopefully can stay healthy. In exchange for Rose, the Knicks gave away some Doritos, a plain bagel and a box of Cheerios (Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant and Robin Lopez). While Rose’s injury woes are a major concern last season he played 66 games and averaged about 16 points and 5 assists a game. While he is not the MVP he once was when he averaged 25 and 8, I still expect solid production out of him assuming he stays healthy. I believe playing with Carmelo Anthony will force Rose to defer more often than not, creating more opportunities off the ball for Rose as well as setting up Carmelo for open jumpers.
Have you heard the phrase, “When one bull comes, the other bull follows?” Joakim Noah has, signing with the Knicks for 4 years and $72 million. I am a huge fan of this guy, and I think now that he is home, we will see what we saw from him before Fred Hoiberg came to Chicago. Now while he is up there in age at 31, he is 6’11” with 9 years of experience under his belt While last year he only averaged 4 points and 9 rebounds a game in an injury plagued season, those stats should be taken with a grain of salt, as he is probably the hardest working NBA player there is, if not top 5. He is not the most offensively skilled player, but on defense, loose balls and rebounding, he is there night in and night out. His injury woes have hindered his performance over the last couple of years, but in the 2013-14 season he played 80 games and averaged about 13 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists a game. With a career shooting percentage just under 50%, I do not worry that Noah will take too many shot attempts away from Carmelo Anthony or Kristaps Porzingis.
Signing with his 7th team in 8 years, Courtney Lee looks to have an immediate impact on the Knicks. At 6’5” and 30 years old, he is definitely an upgrade from Aaron Afflalo who was signed to a one year opt out deal which thankfully, he opted out of. While Lee is a very solid player, his numbers are nothing glamorous, yet he provides solid offense and defense and is not being heavily relied on to “carry the load” by any means.
The most intriguing signing for the Knicks is Brandon Jennings for $5 million over this season. Jennings was drafted in 2009 by the Bucks and was then traded to Detroit. He has been a productive player ever since Reggie Jackson took his spot in Detroit. He was then traded to Orlando last season where his numbers dramatically took a fall. However, this does not concern me and here is why. Jennings is an extremely talented player who has always had a role on his team. In Orlando, he was ignored behind Elfrid Payton. He has had constant pressure since Milwaukee to perform, which he has failed to do. However, in Milwaukee he had no pressure on him because he did not have a viable backup behind him. This time, he is the backup. While injury is certainly a concern for Jennings, he was extremely excited to sign with the Knicks and I expect that to translate to the court this season. Finally, he is certainly an upgrade from Langston Galloway, who never really found his role on the team.
The Knicks additionally retained key role players such as Lance Thomas, Kyle O’Quinn, Sasha Vujacic and signed 26 year-old Mindugas Kuziminskas, from Latvia who knows Kristaps Porzingis and 22 year-old Guillermo “Willy” Hernangomez from Spain who shows a lot of potential.
Last but not least, they hired Jeff Hornacek, the former head coach of the Phoenix Sun’s. The team’s performance was unimpressive under Hornacek, but other than Eric Bledsoe, there was little talent to work with. While Mark Jackson would have been my pick, anyone is better than Derrick Fisher… even Matt Barnes.
So what are reasonable expectations for the Knicks this season? If the Knicks are fully healthy for 85% of their games, they should obtain anywhere from the 5th to 8th seed in the Eastern Conference standings. They have enough talent to be competitive, yet they are not better than the Cavaliers, Pacers, Celtics or the Raptors. While the Pistons, Bucks and Wizards pose a threat, the Knicks upgraded more in the offseason than either of those teams. However, if they are not fully healthy and have at least two starters out for more than 40% of their games, they could very well miss the playoffs. The main takeaway should be positive from this offseason. While Rose, Lee, Anthony, Porzingis and Noah are not the Dream Team, they are still better than Calderon, Afflalo, Anthony, Porzingis and Lopez last year, who won a mere 32 games. And while some may be upset about Durant, Wade and Howard going to other teams, the hopes and dreams of the Knicks signing them were for the most part unrealistic to begin with.
I hope this season is competitive! Go Knicks!
Image via https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cmjw8zEWIAAPRwP.jpg
About me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a rising 12th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and the Oregon football team. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN2. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).