Today’s discussion will finish up the Atlantic division as we head to the city (that) never sleeps. The New York Knicks are always one of the talking points of the NBA for better or for worse. While there weren’t quite as many noteworthy moves made this off-season, the team is still worth looking at.
New York has tried to insert themselves into talks for big-time players for the past few off seasons. Remember last year when people were photoshopping pictures of Kyrie and KD into Knick uniforms? This off-season didn’t see the same kind of star power on the market, so there wasn’t any of that nonsense. There was some chatter that they were interested in Fred VanVleet and Russell Westbrook, but that all died down. Some fans of the team voiced their disdain for the lack of major moves from the front office. This year was different than years past, but I don’t think anyone can blame the team for not taking a big swing. The majority of the moves New York made seem small, but reasonable.
The first piece of news that came out of the organization was the coaching hire they made. The Knicks made Tom Thibodeau the new head coach, which should be interesting. Thibodeau is a guy players either really like or really hate and it will be important for his future there that the young stars really like him. He has had several stops as a head coach now and his style hasn’t changed as time has gone on. Tibs may want to try to adjust his game plan if he hopes to stick around. Who knows? His traditional style of pay may be so unconventional now that it ends up being the kind of off-the-wall move the organization needs.
The team will certainly look different on the court compared to last year even without the change in coach. New York drafted hometown talent Obi Toppin in the draft 8th overall and people seemed to love it. Toppin gets to live out his dream of playing for the Knicks and we get to see a talented young man paired up with Barrett. There are some questions about the fit with Obi considering Julius Randle is still on the roster, but they can make it work. Toppin should prove to be a very valuable offensive weapon next to R.J. for the next several seasons; Knicks fans should be excited for the future.
The former Dayton Flyer isn’t the only rookie on New York’s roster this season. Leandro Bolmaro and Immanuel Quickley were taken with the 23rd and 25th picks in the draft and look like they could be solid rotation players down the line. Bolmaro is a wing from Argentina who shows the ability to handle the ball well for someone his size. His shooting has a ways to go, but there’s enough skill to warrant and first-round pick. Quickley is known for his lights-out shooting and two-way ability. The 6’3” guard has a 6’10” wingspan that allows him to play against bigger players and get in the way of passing lanes. Both players have their weaknesses, but they should have roles in the league for a long time.
Free agency proved to be kind of quiet for the team as the moves they made were far from headline deals. Veteran depth seemed to be the focal point of the Knick’s pursuit as they went into free agency. The team signed Austin Rivers and Alec Burks to give the backcourt the depth it needed. They also resigned Elfrid Payton to round things out. New York also ended up inking deals with Nerlens Noel and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in hopes they can provide production off the bench. Like I said, none of these deals are overwhelming. They do add depth and make the team a tougher out on a nightly basis.
An interesting wrinkle is how the additions of new assistant coach Kenny Payne and new general manager Leon Rose helped shape the roster. Rose is a former agent and seemed to be handing out deals to players he represented before. Payne was an assistant coach under Calipari at Kentucky. This team is littered with players who were once under Payne’s watch as Wildcats. It may be just coincidental that things have aligned this way, but it is worth taking note of.
With the way the Atlantic division is shaping up, this could be another tough season for the Knicks. They will more than likely find themselves at the bottom of the conference again, but there is hope. The veteran additions should make New York more competitive and they were able to find a potential star to put next to Barrett.