New York is the mecca of basketball. There’s no denying that. Madison Square Garden is one of the best places to watch a basketball game in the world. Again, there’s no denying that. MSG is the home of the New York Knicks. While you may think of New York as the mecca of basketball, the Knicks organization hasn’t reciprocated that theme. Once again the Knicks are grabbing the headlines but not because their competitive but because they have big free agency plans a year from now. My question is why should we care?
The rumblings around the NBA is that the Knicks plan on putting their chips to the center of the table in an all-out pursuit of Kyrie Irving. NBC Sports Boston’s A. Sherrod Blakely had some interesting insight on the Knicks potential offseason plans.
“Irving is the Knicks’ “no. 1 target,” Blakely said on the Bulls Talk Podcast. “I’ve spoken with people within [the Knicks] organization. They have made it absolutely crystal clear to me that, if they had their pick of guys that are going to be in the free-agent market [next] summer, Kyrie would be their first, second, third, and fourth choice. He is a guy they definitely want.”
Terry Rozier is apparently the 5th guy on their list for whatever that’s worth. With about $70 million in committed salaries next year, the Knicks only have room for one max player. That’s also not including an impending extension for Kristaps Porzingis that obviously needs to get done. Hypothetically, even if the Knicks do sign Kyrie that team isn’t contending for a title. A starting five of Kyrie, Franky Smokes, Tim Hardaway, Kevin Knox, and Kristaps might not even be a top 4 seed in the East.
Second, Irving would have to be on serious drugs to leave this situation in Boston. Let’s take a look at this from an unbiased perspective.
Head Coach: Brad Stevens > David Fizdale (That one isn’t close.)
General Manager: Danny Ainge > Scott Perry (Neither is that one. Do you trust anyone who comes from the Kings’ regime?)
Shooting Guard: Jaylen Brown > Courtney Lee (Lee is owed over $12 million for next season as well limiting roster flexibility)
Small Forward: Jayson Tatum > Tim Hardaway (Again, not close. Hardaway is also owed around $18 million for the next three seasons. Tatum has also grown close with Kyrie thanks to the Duke connection)
Power Forward: Gordon Hayward > Lance Thomas (C’mon now. Do I need to keep going? People forget that Kyrie also recruited Hayward to Cleveland when he was a member of the Cavs. LeBron foolishly shut that down, of course.)
Center: Al Horford = Kristaps Porzingis (I think Kristaps is more talented and has youth on his side but he’s also not healthy. Porzingis might not even play this year. In the modern NBA, it’s hard to find a center that you would rather have than Horford anyway. Let’s call it a draw.)
Ownership: Wyc Grousbeck > James Dolan (The Knicks have the worst owner in the league and it’s not close)
Tradition: Celtics > Knicks (The Celtics are the winningest franchise in the history of the NBA. 17 championships. The Knicks have two championships and none since 1973.)
Future Assets: Celtics > Knicks (Just having that future Kings pick trumps everything. This Celtics team is loaded and they aren’t even done getting better)
Money: Celtics > Knicks: (The Cap number hasn’t been officially annouced but the impending team has the financial edge over any free agent talks. This upcoming summer the max free agent slot for re-signing projects to give Kyrie a five-year deal worth more than $189 million. Do you think he’s turning that down considering he’s struggled with injuries? Signing with a new team would result in a four-year deal worth $140 million. So he’s going to turn down more money to sign with a worse team?
You can talk about the New York nostalgia all you want and that’s fine. However, Irving also has just as many if not more ties to Boston. Kyrie’s father has his number retired at Boston University. Kyrie’s parents met in Boston. You don’t think it would mean something for Irving to win a title in the same city his father played basketball?
What are we talking about here? At some point even considering the Knicks as a free agent destination seems silly. This is the same franchise that can’t even get meetings in recent years. Kevin Durant wouldn’t meet with them. LeBron James wouldn’t meet with them. Hell, LaMarcus Aldridge wouldn’t even meet with them. Now I’m supposed to believe Kyrie will sign there. In other words, GTFOH.
Let’s also factor in the Celtics success this upcoming season. What happens if the Celtics make the Finals (and they will baring injury). Kyrie is just going to leave a title contender built on the foundation of a roster that was the youngest team in the NBA last year? What happens if the Celtics actually beat the Warriors in the NBA Finals (VERY POSSIBLE). There isn’t a point guard in the NBA who has had more success against Steph Curry. There isn’t a head coach in the NBA who holds Brad Stevens’ jock. Boston’s bench might be the deepest in the league. The Celtics had the best defense in the league last year. Add in All-Star Gordon Hayward and improvements from Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum and then ask yourself why they can’t beat Golden State? You think Kyrie leaves a team that wins a title? No chance. Yeah, I bet he’s just dying to go play with Joakim Noah.