Matt Slocum/Associated Press
Fans of the New York Knicks have their eyes firmly fixed on the pending offseason. With a disappointing 28-36 record, the Knicks were not one of the 22 teams invited to the NBA‘s restart bubble in Florida. However, the franchise does have a lot at stake in the coming months.
New York is going through yet another rebuild, and it’s going to start with the search for a head coach. Interim coach Mike Miller is among several candidates who have been interviewed for the job on a permanent basis, and the team recently conducted its second round of interviews.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd wowed in his interview, but Tom Thibodeau remains the favorite for the job:
“The sense around the league was the 10 other Knicks coaching candidates would need knock it out of the park to unseat strong favorite Tom Thibodeau. While sources say Jason Kidd wowed Knicks brass with ‘a great interview,’ it might not be enough to topple Thibodeau, whose relationship with Knicks president Leon Rose and senior vice president William Wesley should prove insurmountable. They repped Thibodeau at Creative Artists Agency.”
Thibodeau’s experience with Rose certainly isn’t going to hurt his candidacy. The same could be said for pending free agent and fellow former Rose client Carmelo Anthony. Per Berman, their relationship could lead to a reunion in New York this offseason.
“The sense is Anthony wants to finish his career in New York, and he fell right on the Knicks’ radar the moment Rose accepted the presidency,” Berman wrote. “There is no bigger fan of Anthony on the planet than Rose.”
This meshes, at least to some degree, with recent comments from SNY’s Ian Begley that suggest New York will pursue veterans on the open market:
“In general, my guess is that Rose and the Knicks will be aggressive in pursuing trades for young, talented players if the opportunity presents itself. I’d also guess that the club will have a significant number of veterans on the roster next season, in part in an effort to surround the younger players with knowledge and experience.”
Give the state of a Knicks team that hasn’t made the postseason since the 2012-13 season, Begley’s line of thinking makes a ton of sense.
New York isn’t the premier free-agent destination that it once was, so young talent will largely have to be acquired through trades, the draft or through sheer over-payment. Ideally, the future core will come via the draft, and it will be smart to find seasoned mentors like Anthony who can guide them.
Rick Rycroft/Associated Press
Presumably, the Knicks will have a piece of their future core in place next season with RJ Barrett and a rookie first-round pick filling that void. New York should have a good shot at a lottery pick, and if it lands one, former Illawarra Hawks standout LaMelo Ball could be the choice. He would be a fine complement to Barrett in the backcourt, and some believe the Knicks are his preferred destination.
“As teams do their homework on players in the draft, there’s been a consistent theme about LaMelo Ball: Multiple teams believe Ball and those in his circle prefer that he lands in New York,” Begley recently wrote.
It’s worth noting, though, that some teams may not be upset about the idea of Ball preferring New York. According to Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor, at least someone in the league is concerned that Ball’s jump shot is inefficient and cannot be salvaged. Fedor said the following on the Wine & Gold Talk podcast (h/t HoopsHype):
“I talked to an evaluator that’s been watching LaMelo and Deni Avdija and a lot of these other guys for a number of years now. And the term that was used for LaMelo’s shot was ‘broken.’ Now this is just one person’s evaluation of it. And then when I asked about Deni, because his shooting percentages were low as well. The person told me that he thought it was fixable.”
Fedor similarly described Ball’s shot as “broken” back in April. What’s unclear is whether Fedor’s source is alone in their opinion or if other decision-makers share the same evaluation. If this is a more widespread viewpoint, some teams might be happy to let him land with the Knicks.
AJ MAST/Associated Press
While the Knicks won’t be part of the Florida restart, the Indiana Pacers will—and they might just have star shooting guard Victor Oladipo back in the lineup. The two-time All-Star is still working his way back from the torn quad tendon that ended his 2018-19 season.
Oladipo appeared in just 13 games for the Pacers this season and initially ruled himself out of the restart. However, he has recently reconsidered that decision.
“I’m just reassessing myself and my body every day,” Oladipo said, per ESPN’s Eric Woodyard.
Whether or not Oladipo returns this season, it’s worth noting that he may have been at a point where he didn’t want to play for Indiana at all. According to Pacers beat writer Scott Agness, he and the Pacers were not on the best of terms following his injury:
“The Pacers fully support Oladipo and whatever he decides, although they haven’t always been on the same page. There was a fracture in the relationship after his injury in Jan. 2019, per sources. It has improved over time. And it’s good that the team has two executives down there, Kevin Pritchard and Chad Buchanan, to assist during this situation.”
If it’s accurate that Oladipo’s relationship with the Pacers was strained, the fact that it’s mended should be good news for the team. Oladipo is still just 28 years old and can be a building block for Indiana’s foreseeable future. However, he’s also scheduled to hit free agency following next season.