Life after Porzingis: The future is bright for the Knicks

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For New York Knicks fans, the last few seasons have been all doom and gloom. Trades, injuries and poor management have all contributed to the demise of a historic franchise.

After the drafting of Kristaps Porzingis in 2015, Knicks fans lost trust in the board as he wasn’t considered a future star.

But fast forward to 2018, and the Latvian had become the shining light of the Knicks, collecting his first NBA All-Star selection only to have to pull out through a season-ending injury. However, what Knicks fans didn’t know then was that the star they’d fell in love with would never play for the franchise again.

Out of patience and love with NY

In his fourth season – this season – the Latvian forward had given up hope on the franchise that had put in so much time and effort with him, requesting a trade despite not playing for a year since suffering an ACL injury.

Porzingis and his team made it clear that he wasn’t going to sign a new deal put forward by the Knicks, and that he’d enter free agency. Once they’d heard those ill-fated words, they knew what was best for the future of the franchise.

The New Yorkers currently sit bottom of the entire league with a record of 10-42. Unofficially, the whispers state that the Knicks are tanking this season in order to get a win on the 2019 draft, but regardless of where they finish and what draft pick they get, there are still reasons to be positive for fans after the KP trade.

KP Trade clears the roster

In the deal, the Knicks sent Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee to the Dallas Mavericks as well as KP. If you focus on just this side of the trade, you’d make the Mavs clear winners. But the Knicks were clever, and having given up on this season already, they made their priority the future.

Speaking during their 42nd defeat of the season against Memphis Grizzlies, Knicks general manager Steve Mills gave New York fans what they’d been crying out for since the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2017 – clarity.

Mills outlined what they got in return from the deal. Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews joined the Knicks. Jordan and Matthews are veterans of the game and may not be at the franchise for long, but they offer experience that can help those around them.

And Smith Jr. is a player the Knicks had looked at drafting during the 2017 draft, but opted for Frank Ntilikina instead. So to end up with both on their roster is a win for them.

Wage cap space cleared up

By moving their ‘veterans’ on, the Knicks have also given themselves the best chance they can on picking up leaders and game-changing players in the free agency.

They’ve cleared up cap space which gives them $74.6m to throw on contacts for players. In free agency terms, this allows the Knicks two max contracts to offer those elite players. And they’re still linked with the elite.

Anthony Davis has recently requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans, with the player himself trying to force a move to a team competing for a title. His focus is on a link-up with LeBron James at the Los Angeles Lakers, but as it stands that is virtually impossible unless the Lakers trade more than half their roster for just AD.

This leaves the Knicks as major players in the game for getting AD’s signature. It might not be an exciting prospect for AD this season, but Mills may be able to paint the picture a little better if he outlines their future plans.

The Knicks are looking good for an early draft pick, and they also acquired the rights to two further first-round draft picks in the future from the KP trade. The Knicks are being linked with some of the biggest names in the game and could tie them up during the free agency.

Kevin Durant. Kyrie Irving. Klay Thompson. Kemba Walker. Kawhi Leonard. Five All-Star names that the Knicks are chasing for their two free agency max contracts.

Pair this with a potential top two draft selection where Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett are the future stars likely to be selected first. If the Knicks can get either of these two, the future could bring in a Championship sooner than fans may realise.

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