What the New York Knicks Need for the 2021 NBA Season
It’s really hard to write a post on the New York Knicks’ needs for the upcoming NBA season, simply because the organization has so many problems. And yet, several among them are just too big to ignore, so I’m going to focus on them.
The Knicks really have to find the right solutions to get back on track. It looks impossible for the team to become competitive overnight, so the main goal should be to change the culture and lay the groundwork for the future.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Knicks’ biggest needs for the upcoming NBA season and how the team can address them.
Move Up the Draft to Get LaMelo Ball
The New York Knicks were once again unlucky with the draft lottery and landed only the 8th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. That’s not good enough, especially if you consider the expectations that this class won’t be too strong.
If the organization stays in that position, it could get some useful pieces but they likely won’t deliver an immediate impact or have the potential to become franchise players.
One of the few guys that might fit that last category is LaMelo Ball. He is already an excellent playmaker and many believe his ceiling is really high. The guard is not a good fit for the top teams in the draft, so he might very well be available with the third or fourth pick.
Several organizations will be in the hunt for Ball and the rumors suggest that the Pistons are ready to trade up to get him. I believe that the Knicks have to do the same.
The team desperately needs a point guard and we’ve seen many reports linking guys like Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook. I honestly see no point in getting any of them right now. Sure, it might improve the team and it will hype up the fans, but it’s not a long-term solution.
Getting a new guy that will be on a rookie contract for several years and that could build chemistry with some of the other youngsters sounds like the beginning of a rebuild. That’s why I believe that the Knicks have to try and get LaMelo now.
Get Some Veterans to Help the Youngsters
That statement might contradict some of my thoughts in the previous section, but let me explain. The main goal of the Knicks is to develop a strong future core by acquiring youngsters with potential and draft picks.
However, we’ve seen in the past that you need some veteran leadership even during rebuilds. There are players who have the experience to help the young guns learn and get some wins under their belt. Being the punching bag of the NBA doesn’t lead anywhere and could be harmful.
That’s why the Knicks need to find some useful veterans that could lift the roster. The organization could even afford to overpay for short-term contracts and leave the salary cap for the future untouched.
Such a move should have a positive effect on the culture and raise the performance of the team. Once the Knicks are close to the playoffs, the confidence of the young stars and the potential to attract strong free agents would increase. To get there, the Knicks have to get some veterans for the upcoming season.
Make a Decision on Julius Randle
There’s little doubt that Julius Randle is the number one option on the Knicks roster right now, but he simply doesn’t fit the timeline. The forward is just about to enter his prime and he has no pieces around him to challenge.
At the same time, Randle simply is not good enough to be the first option on a team that’s fighting for the playoffs. He might be a solid second or third choice, though, and his salary is relatively reasonable.
He’s owed just under $19 million for the upcoming season and many NBA teams could use his services. Randle could provide instant offense and he’s not that expensive. On top of that, his contract expires in 2022 and the last year is only partially guaranteed.
If the Knicks could trade him to get more young assets, move higher in the draft, or acquire useful role players, they should do it.
I’m sure that Randle won’t mind either, because he could be a piece of a contending team instead of leading a franchise that won’t be a factor in the East for at least another year or two.
If I have to be honest, I don’t expect much from the Knicks and the organization is likely to dig an even deeper hole this offseason. Based on the rumors, we might see someone like Westbrook arriving and the team won’t start a rebuild or a change in the culture anytime soon.
Sure, a guy like Westbrook will lift the fans and would instantly improve the roster, but is that the long-term path to success? I don’t think that’s the case.
Let me know if you agree with my thoughts on the Knicks’ biggest needs for the upcoming season and share your own ideas that could help the franchise return to success.