One must forgive long-suffering Knicks fans if they subscribe to the unwavering belief the franchise is cursed. After missing the playoffs for the past six years, and finishing with the worst record in the league this season, Knick diehards were hopeful the franchise’s fortunes would finally change, beginning with winning last month’s NBA Draft Lottery for the first time since its inception in 1985, which became Patrick Ewing as the No.1 overall pick.
This time the prize for all the losing, a 17-65 record to be exact, would be Zion Williamson, the 6-foot-7, 280 pound anomaly of an athlete who would be a signature piece in swaying Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to sign with the Knicks and form a trio that would perform a resurrection.
The prom sing image dramatically faded on lottery night when NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum revealed a placard with the Knicks’ logo announcing they had fallen two picks short of No. 1. At No. 3, they don’t even have a shot at Ja Morant, the dynamic point guard from Murray State who has the look of a future All-NBA player.
The Memphis Grizzlies, with the second pick, have all but held a press conference declaring they are choosing Morant. Williamson is essentially already a New Orleans Pelican. His official selection at the NBA Draft next Thursday at the Barclays Center on June 20 is a mere formality. With reports Irving is seriously considering signing with the Nets and Durant having several appealing options, the most seemingly logical remaining with the Golden States Warriors, the Knicks, with space for two max contracts, must have multiple plans for rebuilding the franchise.
The harsh reality that they may not sign Durant, Irving or Kawhi Leonard, another impending free-agent, or acquire the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis via a trade, has set in for Knicks fans. Team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry will have extremely difficult decisions to make over the next month or two.
Few know for sure the level of interests Irving and Durant have in the Knicks. While they are prohibited from speaking publicly about players who are still under contract with their current teams—July 1 is the start of the 2019-2020 league year—there is no doubt Mills and Perry would ink both promptly on July 6, when teams can officially begin signing players.
For those who had high hopes the Knicks would be the preferred destination of the top free-agents, the specter of being shut out of them all as well as Davis is deflating. It will likely mean the team will miss the playoffs for the seventh straight season. That is unless they take the imprudent course of signing second-tier free-agents as a temporary fix.
Yet fans have been down that road before to failed results. While most of them don’t want to accept this exasperating option, the next best plan is patience in the drafting and developing of homegrown talent.