As a Knicks fan these days I am torn. They are much improved from previous years when it was Kristaps Porzingis and a bunch of no-name guys running up and down the court. They might actually have a future on their hands for once, but I have little trust in this franchise to continue making the right moves.
Truly though, it’s probably the most exciting time to be a Knicks fan since the 90s. I don’t count the Carmelo Anthony trade and Amare Stoudamire half-year because we all knew that was fool’s gold. Everybody knew Amare’s body would never hold up throughout the entirety of that contract that they signed him to. And the Melo trade was insane because they gave up all their assets to acquire him and subsequently could never put anybody half decent around him. The best they could afford to give him was J.R. Smith and an end-of-the-road Tyson Chandler. (Who did give it his all that whole year, culminating in him winning DPOY)
But when you look back to those times, it’s very akin to right now. These situations carry similarities in the fact that the Knicks are once again at a cross-roads. Now looking back to that situation, it’s clear they didn’t make the smartest moves. They flopped on trying to coax Lebron James to come here. That “star of New York” spiel doesn’t work anymore. Then, they turned around and made a desperation move by signing Amare. After that, they failed to wait patiently for Carmelo’s free agency the very following off season! And then they traded most of their team, plus picks, for him.
The bottom line here is that they once again find themselves in a cross-road. They stand now with a bevy of young, promising players. Those are the guys they should invest in, guys like Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox could very well be the building blocks for their rise into contention. They might not ever be stars but with their potential, I would only consider trading them for something extremely valuable. They also have a couple of slightly older players who might be worth something decent out there. Basically what I’m saying is the Knicks should not hesitate to offer around Enes Kanter and Tim Hardaway Jr. In fact, I think it would behoove them greatly to move both of these guys before the deadline this year.
First: Tim Hardaway Jr. Now, it’s very clear the guy has improved, averaging over 20 points a game this year. But that number doesn’t tell the whole story, he’s playing over 30 min a game and shooting less than 40% on the year. That’s not a very good usage rate at all, but his PPG average makes him a valuable trade asset. Also with Kristaps coming back soon, I think he will never be more valuable than he is right now. Have you seen him play defense? It’s not pretty, his defensive box plus/minus for this season is a horrendous -3.7. Just for reference, -2 is considered pretty bad. There are so many good returns they could get for this guy and I really don’t see him playing too much into their future due to his probable regression and how much of their cap he is going to be taking up. That contract he’s on ultimately might be the main reason why they cannot move him. Still I think shopping him around for a promising young player or even a 1st round pick could really benefit them in the long term.
Second: Enes Kanter. This guy has turned himself into some kind of fan favorite this season and it’s easy to see why. The Turkish center thrives on the glass, he’s already had a couple of 20-20 games this season. So why would they want to trade him? The answer is simple, defense. The guy’s horrendous on the defensive side of the ball. And in a league with lightning fast players who drive a lot, having a center who can’t play against that leads to a ton of mis-matches and problems. It’s the reason why Fizdale never really has him in the game for late defensive situations. He’s a complete liability on that side of the floor. Plus their second round pick from this past year’s draft looks like a future stud, as the emergence of Mitchell Robinson has made Kanter expendable. With the numbers he has put up this year I am sure a team would be willing to surrender something of value for him. Heck, you could even package him and Hardaway together if you wanted, see what kind of return that could net you.
The bottom line is that the Knicks will not likely be in a position like this again for a long time or possibly even ever. A spot where they could realistically shop around two, productive 26 year old players and STILL not be mortgaging their future. How many teams can do that? They really have set themselves up well but in this league it needs to be more than just that.
The Warriors aren’t going to be world beaters forever, the Knicks have to be ready to be a contender when Golden State finally falls off. There could be other emerging contenders to deal with but I think if the Knicks maximize their assets now they could really set themselves up well for the next decade.
I’m not saying you MUST move these guys regardless, if the rest of the NBA wants to offer you peanuts for them, then I would just hang up the phone on those teams. But giving up on young players who haven’t even turned 21 yet is foolish, giving up on 26 year olds (with glaring flaws) who have value now, for possible picks or younger players could be genius.