Boos have been more than common in Madison Square Garden of late. Long have the New York Knicks been one of the most well-supported teams in the league, linking back to the successful days the team had in the 70s – but recent times haven’t been kind to the Big Apple faithful.
Despite drawing talent like Carmelo Anthony to its famed stomping ground, the Knicks have recently been on the wrong end of the regular season records. Last season they totalled 32 wins, the year before that just 17 wins.
But could this all be set to change?
A Rose in the Mud
Following an eventful week of draft proceedings, one of the most surprising moves was that of Derrick Rose, who’s now suiting up in the Knicks white and orange. Despite being the face of the Chicago Bulls franchise, and a bright memory for their fans during his solitary MVP season, Rose’s time was up.
Leaving Illinois behind as the final piece of the Tom Thibodeau era, Rose is set to try and reinvigorate his career in one of the hottest seats in NBA basketball. But with his acquirement, do the Knicks suddenly become a major player in the somewhat weaker side of the league?
Most probably, the answer is yes.
Whilst Rose is no longer the player he was before his cruel bout of injuries ravaged his knees, he’s still a major improvement over the point guard who went in the other direction within the Bulls/Knicks trade – Jose Calderon.
No disservice to him, but to argue that the Spanish veteran is better than D-Rose is beyond laughable. Rose still boasts more athleticism, has better ball handling skills and is much more adept at creating his own shot.
Whilst there are defensive questions to be asked of him, there are still big scoring games within Rose’s locker – albeit not quite at the level he was once capable. Add to this the likes of Carmelo Anthony and the youthful talents of Kristaps Porzingis and you’ve suddenly got a ‘big three’ capable of doing all sorts of offensive damage.
Even Jimmy Butler, a player who was rumoured to have an icy relationship with Rose bigged up his former teammate's chances in New York.
“Obviously, I wish him the best moving forward,’’ Butler said, per the New York Post.
“I know he’s going to help New York win games, man. He’s a hell of a player. I know [Carmelo’s] excited. I think [Derrick’s] going to win them games.”
What about Defence?
Obviously, New York’s defence is now the biggest question mark which is likely to be the deciding factor in terms of their performance. Rose is not known for his lateral quickness, Anthony offers next to nothing – the only major defensive player is Porzingis, who lacks the size to be a true center this season.
This means that New York will likely need to dip into the pool of free agents who can fill in at the five spot to offer some defence.
The biggest name likely to be on New York’s radar is Dwight Howard, after yet another questionable year on the court. But questions remain over his ability to handle scrutiny – something which is more common than yellow cabs in New York.
Another younger target who could fit in well with the Knicks is Hassan Whiteside, a man who has developed at an astonishing rate in Miami. His defensive intensity has been something of a breath of fresh air in a small-ball focused league, and although fouls are an issue for him, a move to New York could be beneficial.
Some other big men who could also land in MSG include Rose’s ex-teammate Joakim Noah, fresh off an injury-hit year of his own, or Roy Hibbert.
Regardless, New York fans will be desperate to see a replacement for Robin Lopez head to Knicks country before the season starts. That’s unless they somehow manage to lure Kevin Durant their way, in which case moving Porzingis to the center spot may be the only realistic move to make.
Could Durant go to New York?
Arguably the biggest name on the free agency boat this season is Durant, and it’s safe to say that plenty of teams hold some kind of hope of courting him before he makes his decision. However, most analysts and fans expect him to stay in Oklahoma – with most teams probably laying foundations for a run at Durant in two years’ time when his next contract is likely to end.
However, New York might be thinking otherwise.
Durant wasn’t expected to consider the Knicks a realistic destination after the All-Star break, but following Rose’s acquisition, he appears to have changed his mind – if reports are to be believed.
Speaking to ESPN after the Knicks’ trade, Durant seemingly mentioned that he’d be considering the Big Apple as a possible destination this summer.
“Obviously, they have a good team now with D-Rose & Melo & Porzingis so I will talk to my team and we will figure things out," Durant said via Ian Begley, of ESPN.
Anthony is said to have done most of the groundwork speaking to Durant and convincing him to hear his team out. Even if it’s only a short meeting with Phil Jackson, it could sway the Oklahoma superstar into considering MSG as a new home floor.
If they do somehow coax Durant to New York, this would undoubtedly make the Knicks one of the premier teams in the Eastern Conference, possibly ahead of the NBA Championship-winning Cleveland Cavaliers.
If that’s the case, it seems that those boos could be a bit quieter New York…