We could debate all day and night what the Knicks desire at this point of their existence, and it will be a lively and lengthy deliberation. A team that has won only 37 of 82 games and completed a full 6 games in the 10-team NBA East Tournament is by no means a step away from glory.
But, as ever, the cornerstone of this argument is in the same place.
The Knicks need a point guard.
In fact, the Knicks have needed a point guard since Charlie Ward’s last valid season, in 2003. That was 19 years ago.
The Knicks had some fleeting hopes that Stephen Marbury would come home, but that never really materialized. Raymond Felton was great, then got traded, then great after being re-acquired, then ate himself up in New York. Jason Kidd and Derrick Rose hinted at what they used to be, but their performances are a bit long. Of course, the partnership with Kemba Walker has been terrible this season.
Reliable water drink for the team that once boasted about Dick McGuire, Clyde Frazier, Sugar Ray Richardson, Mark Jackson, Doc Rivers and Derek Harper It’s been a long time in between.
“What the Knicks need most is an undisputed leader on the court, a classic point guard,” mused Jeff Van Gundy not long ago. “That should be the number one priority.”
In a perfect world — that is, a world centered on the Knicks; that is, a world that hasn’t existed for decades — there’s a perfect answer: Jalen Brunson. This year, Brunson had a breakthrough year in Dallas. He has grown into a star, led the Mavericks to the Western Conference finals. He’s a quasi-free agent.
“He’s everything you ask of a player,” Jay Wright, his college coach at Villanova, said last year. “He’s selfless. He cares about both ends of the floor. And he’s obsessed with winning. Why wouldn’t you want Jalen Brunson on your team?”
He is not easy to get. Since he’s already been such a big part of the Mavericks’ success, even if Brunson’s agent is CAA’s Sam Rose, he’ll be increasingly difficult to snag from Mark Cuban, who happens to be the Knicks president. son.
A few years ago, before the 2020-21 season, when Toronto’s Fred VanVleet entered free agency, the Knicks made a similar choice, but they chose not to step up and outperform the Raptors — even Challenge them – would rather stay with last summer’s “flexible”, which produced a slew of Walker and Evan Fournier. The decision speaks for itself.
It should say loudly and clearly what Sam’s pop Leon needs to do. After all, Rose was hired on the idea that his array of basketball relationships and innovative thinking could clear the way for the Knicks to get back on track. His relationship with the Brunson family goes back to his elder Rick, Leon’s first client. That part is safe.
Now, he needs to figure out a way to clear the deck and take the necessary steps to at least make Jalen Brunson’s decision harder and get the Knicks to make a competitive offer to lure Brun Sen’s attention. If that involves soliciting capital to lure someone to take Fournier or Nerlens Noel out of their hands, so be it. Get it done.
The Knicks have lost their best chance at finding a foundational point guard in the draft. In 2020, they selected Obi Toppin with the 8th overall pick in that summer’s draft. While Toppin is undoubtedly an interesting player whose late-season surge has been eye-opening to some, it means getting around Tyrese Haliburton (the Kings were 12 years old before being traded to Indiana last year). time) and Cole Anthony (the Magic drafted him at 15).
if Knicks stay at 11, which could yield TyTy Washington Jr., who showed promise as a freshman at the University of Kentucky last year, and the Knicks have never been shy about adding the Wildcats to their roster. And, look: sometimes, you get lucky. The Knicks found 18-year-old Jackson in 1987, who won Rookie of the Year.
But Leon Rose was not hired because he had a lucky horseshoe. He was hired because of who he knew and what he knew. And here’s what he needs to know: If the Knicks are really going to take a big step forward, they need to keep the best point guard available until they’re told he’s no longer available. That’s Jaylen Brunson.