The epic conclusion
Part one touched on the upcoming draft, free agency and whether to keep Mitchell Robinson. Part two delves into point guards.
Antonio: On the point-guard front, Brunson should be the clear go-to target as long as New York doesn’t overpay (they’d be sending something like Burks + Noel + picks the other way to complete the S&T on top of everything, remember). After that, it’d come down to betting on a young long-termish player (Collin Sexton) or a veteran on a one- or two-year deal (Dennis Schröder; Ricky Rubio; Patty Mills) to pair with Ivey if New York gets the rook.
Perhaps the best option at the end of the day, given the salary cap constraints, comes down to trading for someone. And by someone, I mean anyone from the Anfernee Simons/Shai Gilgeous-Alexander/Dejounte Murray group—no, I don’t want anything to do with Malcolm Brogdon. I know at least two of those three are pretty much fantasies, but Simons should be obtainable if Portland falls for it and wants to keep trying stuff around Dame (Nurk out, Randle in, in this scenario). If that is achievable (even if it includes trading the likes of IQ/Grimes/Cam/whoever), I’d be cool with New York going that way. If not, I’m not convinced I want to get stuck on a four- or five-year deal with Brunson. I’d prefer to hand a one-year deal to a stopgap vet or just run with Ivey/IQ/Deuce and Mentor Rose, keep developing the homegrown talents, and see what happens in the 2023 draft/FA.
Escobedo: I like the options listed. We agree Brunson is worth $17M per, at most. but will probably receive $20M from the Mavs or another team. We both see him as a secondary ballhandler who can start next to a superstar but not as your lead guard. While I like his game, I hate the idea of signing Sexton to a long-term, inflated contract off an injury. That runs counter to Scott Perry’s tenure anyways. Not worth it in my opinion for a guy who will never be top-10 at his position.
When it comes to trading, I’m all in on SGA. I have zero interest in adding a two-year window to this current bunch of bums by trading for Dame. Murray would demand too high a cost for a good but not elite guard. I hate Brogdon as well. He’s not worth selling the farm for. But here’s what worries me: in the last 20 years of modern basketball, there hasn’t been a single team that acquired their first superstar through trade. Every team either drafted or signed their first big player. So there’s obviously a framework of what works.
It would be so damn Knicksian to zag and trade away picks and a young core for SGA, pair him with RJ and Randle, and never get out of the second round for three years. That seems like a special form of purgatory for us Knicks fans. This is why I continue to preach building through the draft. New York has a high lottery pick this summer! Let’s pray for the “PING PONG!!!” and if they end up in the bottom five, the Knicks can always attach the necessary asset to move up and nab Ivey.
Antonio: So let me get this straight. With the draft completed and entering the FA period, this is where I see the team at. I guess you and the YouTube clips of Ivey I’ve had running in the background through this conversation has convinced me. Landing a solid player — even more, a surefire prospect — at the most important position is a must come June/July, so I’m picking the Purdue product to make it a three-headed monster of Ivey/McBride/Rose with Kemba’s trade pending. From that point on, though, things get way harder when it comes to Trade Machining. At least if we keep it realistic, Lee, because the salary cap and the allocated money in this roster are hella tight already (New York will sit at around $120M in salaries next year, with the cap projected to a very similar value.)
Sorry for being a party pooper, but here’s how I see the roster ending next summer barring a peripheral move such as getting rid of Taj/Kemba’s expiring deal and trying to get something in exchange for the outgoing Mitchell Robinson. In the latter case, I wouldn’t be mad at trying to convince Detroit to fall for him, landing Isaiah Stewart and some additions (maybe Killian Hayes?) in exchange. All things considered, I’m cautiously looking at something like this, as disappointed as you might be:
PG: Ivey / Rose / Hayes / McBride
SG: Grimes / Fournier / IQ
SF: Barrett / Burks / Cam
PF: Randle / Toppin / Stewart
C: Stewart / Sims / Noel
There is some overload there, but some guys might end up moving in the Mitchell Robinson S&T, the Kemba deal, etc. I’m not too optimistic about landing Simons or SGA, mostly because that’d take a lot of salaries sent away from New York to bridge a rookie-deal gap, and for OKC to swallow aging vets in Randle/Fournier/Burks who don’t really align with the Thunder’s rebuilding effort. Also, keep in mind Thibs probably starts the season with the Knicks if the FO gives him one final chance, no matter how everything ends… In other words: expect weird rotations, veterans, and a ton of critics getting posted in the comment section of P&T blog posts.
Anyways, and with this being the New York Knicks, if everything fails and they go in Desperate Mode they will always have the BING BONG! GODS card at hand to use and trade for the damaged goods of Zion Williamson and a pot of gumbo. Doesn’t sound that bad.
Escobedo: Very, very well said. I agree with most of this, and you can rest easy as that depth chart doesn’t make me upset or disappointed or anything like that, honestly. In my opinion, Thibs accelerated the rebuild a year too soon. The Knicks are currently in year two of the Rose era, and nobody expected him to turn us into a contender by now. If New York manages to snatch Ivey and pair him with Grimes, Obi, Randle, Rose, McBride, IQ, and RJ, that’s a kick-ass core. Perhaps one of the best in the league, if I do say so myself. Let’s see what a dynamic lead guard does for the rest of our young core.
As the young core grows and develops, and a young PG is in place, the Knicks no longer have to target only guards. No longer are they in the passenger seat talking trades because of any particular position-fix desperation. New York would finally be able to chase the best players available and the franchise will have a solid group of assets to do so. Trying to make the playoffs with the point guards the Knicks have rostered of late was fool’s gold. This team shouldn’t aim at the postseason until it is sure they have a squad that can get at least past the first round. That will come by remaining patient and building through the draft when seasons like this one happen.
I ask anyone reading: was the first-round embarrassment in last year’s playoffs worth not drafting one of the lottery kids that went top-10? Hell no. So let’s continue building and keep our options open. No one is off-limits on this roster but RJ. Even Thibs is and should be on the hot seat. The crazy thing is New York is tanking while trying to win games. That shows how inept Thibs is at modern basketball and development. Fortunately, for maybe the first time ever, it will benefit us this summer.