“Let’s get this out of the way.”
This is what the Knicks’ management thinks of the upcoming season, and likely what they were thinking at the beginning of last season too. It’s clear the Knicks are looking towards the summer of 2010, as they should be. Upon hearing today’s news that Nate Robinson’s one-year deal is essentially finalized and David Lee’s will soon be too, I figured it was time to get this preview out of the way.
If you watched any Knicks games last season, you no doubt noticed a significant change from the previous few seasons. With Donnie Walsh pulling the strings to dump the worst offenders of the dreadful Isiah era and Mike D’Antoni freeing his players to push the ball and get quick shots up, this team was infinitely more watchable. Sure, they still won only 32 games, but that’s what you get when you don’t have a real starting centre and you have Chris Duhon playing over 36 minutes a game. They were still the butt of some jokes on late-night TV, but their play was a huge, huge upgrade from what we were used to. At long last, the Knicks were fun.
Going into the off-season, there were questions about what would happen with Lee and Robinson. Both had just had phenomenal seasons and would likely want their deserved multi-year contracts. However, with the Knicks not wanting to commit potential LeBron James money to anyone and with few other teams in the free agent market this off-season, their situations lingered until… well, about now. Fortunately for Knicks fans, though, these two should give the team more of the same solid production next season, even if they don’t figure to be in the team’s long-term plans.
The only other free agent move Walsh even considered was signing Ramon Sessions. The young PG ended up signing a below-market-value deal with Minnesota, but would have been a big upgrade over Duhon at the point in NY. I can’t fault the GM for not pursuing him, though – anything that would jeopardize the 2010 financial flexibility Walsh has worked so hard to set up probably isn’t worth it. Knicks fans have suffered for too long, they deserve a shot to become an elite team. You have to stay with the plan. Even if the plan fails and they don’t land a megastar next summer, it’s worth the gamble. It just means that you’re going to have summers like this one, where the two biggest new faces are rookie Jordan Hill and Darko Milicic.
You know what to expect from the Knicks next season. They’ll play at a blistering pace and surprise more talented teams every once in a while. They’ll be a fun watch, but you’ll never consider them “relevant”. Without the circus surrounding the team at the early stages of the season this time around, and with some progression from young players Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, they could make a slight improvement on their record from last season. Still, we know this isn’t a playoff team and it isn’t a team that’s going to scare anybody. That’s okay for now, though. Maybe next year.