AS NBA free agency got underway on Sunday we come to find news out that Paul George was re-signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder for 4 years and $137 million dollars and LeBron James is joining the Los Angeles Lakers on a four-year, $154 million deal. Wow, what a start.
We also know that San Antonio Spurs have spoken to the Lakers, Celtics and 76ers about disgruntled star forward Kawhi Leonard, who wants out of San Antonio and prefers to join LeBron in Los Angeles.
With the major players in the NBA making waves, the Knicks are selling their fans hope for next summer. They want to maintain cap space this offseason in the hope of making a big splash next summer when Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard are all free agents. The Knicks are hoping that if they build a winner, big time star players will want to come. That is easier said than done, but haven’t we heard that before.
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I am not saying that the Knicks can’t attract free agents, but odds are they will not. Odds are players will continue to enjoy coming to MSG and embarrassing the Knicks and then moving onto their next city during the regular season. All due respect to Steve Mills, Scott Perry and David Fizdale, actions speak louder than words. In order to believe that this plan will work, the Knicks have to be major players for impact players. In order to do that, they need to build a winner and develop players and keep players like Kristaps Porzingis healthy and on the court.
There is a real and tangible reason why players view the Lakers in Los Angeles as a worthwhile landing spot. I get the glitz and the glamour and the lifestyle and the quality of life, but there is also a trust in the organization that they will do whatever they can do to try and win. Players trust Jeanie Buss, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka that they have a plan, will enact that plan and carry it out to do whatever they can do to win. They have a championship history that is difficult, if not impossible, to forget.
There is not that trust, nor the championship pedigree with the Knicks. They have not won an NBA championship since 1973. Players have certainly watched as other star players in recent years have gone to MSG and struggled on and off the court with little to no support or backbone from the organization. Now maybe that will change under Mills, Perry and Fizdale, but just like the fan base needs to see it in order to believe it, so do the players in the association. The trust needs to be built over the course of time and needs to be earned.
Let’s be honest, the only thing that made the Knicks exciting in the past few days was the erroneous report that maybe owner James Dolan was looking to sell both the Knicks and Rangers.
That is not the case, so put down the party favors.
Dolan is looking to spin-off both the Rangers and Knicks and separate them from MSG. So, as the stock prices for MSG soar, Dolan will remain in charge of both franchises moving forward.
So as the movers and shakers in the NBA look to make splashy moves this off-season, Knicks fans are left looking at their reality as a bit player in a major market. News of the brain trust reaching and contacting Magic shooting guard Mario Hezonja when free agency got going has already leaked out, the former fifth-overall draft choice by the Magic that has never realized his potential. More news that they signed Luke Kornet to a one-year deal or that that signed Allonzo Trier to a 2- deal. The cherry on the top is that they want to re-sign restricted free agent Isaiah Hicks. Not exactly a list that gets you excited for winter nights at MSG.
Some may say that I am being too negative and I should be more hopeful, after all you would have to think they will get it right at some point. Let me remind you that Steve Mills was the guy who signed Tim Hardaway Jr. to a 4-year $71-million dollar contract last off-season when he was a restricted free agent with the Atlanta Hawks. It shocked the NBA, Like I said before, actions speak louder than words and seeing is believing. Onward and upward, I guess.