Knicks’ woes trigger sense of urgency

The recent firing of New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher after losing nine of their last 10 games and five games in a row, jeopardizing any chance to make the playoffs, highlights that the Knicks need to do something to improve the team. Especially with the pressure that comes with being in New York, the Knicks need to make some improvements this summer to turn around their lackluster performance while they still have their star player, Carmelo Anthony. Anthony is only getting older, and next year he will be in the third year of his five-year contract. But the Knicks are now starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel with the 7-foot-3 Latvian, Kristaps Porzingis. Phil Jackson, president of the Knicks, has already helped tremendously with the acquisition of Porzingis, and it is said that his future potential will draw players to the Knicks. Jackson may also draw free agents because of his prowess as he coached his way to 11 championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls.

One such example can be seen recently in Kevin Durant, one of the best players in the NBA. Last month, the day before he was scheduled to play the Knicks in Madison Square Garden, Durant referred to Porzingis, “like a unicorn in this league,” praising his ability to defend, block shots and shoot from long distance, an unprecedented skill for someone over 7-feet tall. When the team drafted Porzingis, and when people did not think he would pan out, Durant told former Knicks coach Fisher that he liked Porzingis and that it was a great pick. His comments seem to convey to everyone that he is seriously considering signing with the Knicks this offseason.

However, while the Knicks do have some cap space, they may not have enough cap space this summer to sign Durant and keep some of their better players. They would probably have to get rid of Arron Afflalo and Derrick Williams, who have provided a scoring option for the Knicks when Porzingis and Anthony are off the court. Additionally, if the Knicks keep bench players Langston Galloway and Lance Thomas and still get Durant, they would not be able to get anyone else. If the Knicks hope to get any top-tier free agents this summer, they will need to shed some cap to make that happen.

Although Porzingis and the big-city life of New York City may help attract free agents this summer, there are many aspects of the Knicks that make free agents look elsewhere. Additionally, some have said that Durant would not fit together with Anthony and Porzingis because of their similar playing styles. Although some may say Anthony is a draw for top free agents who want to team up with him, Anthony’s ball-hog playing style does not fit with many other top-class free agents who also want the ball. Anthony is also 31 years old and has suffered from an ailing knee, missing multiple games this year because of soreness in the same knee he had surgically repaired last year.

Additionally, unless the Knicks can hire a good coach, like Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton, the Knicks’ current coaching problem may drive free agents away. When Warriors coach Steve Kerr was out for about the first half of the season, Walton had an unbelievable record of 39-4. Walton has a connection with Jackson through the Lakers, because he played there under Jackson for more than five years.

There has also been a lot of debate about whether free agents will want to go to the Knicks because of the team’s triangle offense, which some have said to be a very complicated system that players do not like. Jackson, who won his 11 championship titles using the triangle offense, brought it to the Knicks when he took over as president and hired Derek Fisher, a former player of Jackson’s with the Lakers. Within the last week, Rajon Rondo, Sacramento Kings point guard, said that he would not be interested in going to the Knicks in free agency this summer because, “the triangle’s really not a good look for me,” as reported by ESPN. This is disconcerting to the Knicks, considering their desperate need for better point-guard play and the fact that more players could possibly be thinking the very same thing. However, Mike Conley, point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies, has said that he is open to looking everywhere when free agency comes and is not opposed to the Knicks’ triangle offense. Like Durant, Conley is also impressed with Porzingis. After playing the Knicks earlier this season, Conley cited that adding Porzingis with Anthony would make them a more threatening presence in the NBA.

No matter what happens this summer, Porzingis and Anthony need to get some more support from the rest of the Knicks’ players. When they are not on the court, the Knicks’ offense is stagnant. Hopefully, because of Porzingis’ talent, more top-class players will come to the Knicks this summer.