The New York Knicks had been the NBA’s greatest shock final season. The Knicks entered the yr anticipated to be one of many worst groups within the league earlier than a surprising turnaround of their first season beneath Tom Thibodeau that noticed them earn house courtroom benefit within the Japanese Convention playoffs. Sadly for the Knicks, the clock struck midnight when the postseason started, and their charmed yr finally had a bitter ending when Trae Younger and the Atlanta Hawks dominated New York over 5 video games.
The Knicks hoped to construct off final season’s success heading into 12 months 2 beneath Thibodeau, nevertheless it simply hasn’t occurred. Midway by way of the season, the Knicks are a .500 workforce and would miss the play-in match if the season ended at present. A part of that’s as a result of the East is way improved from final season; a part of it’s as a result of a number of key performers — most notably, reigning All-NBA ahead Julius Randle — have skilled important downturns in manufacturing. The Knicks aren’t dangerous within the methods they’ve normally been dangerous, however they’re nonetheless disappointing.
On Thursday, the Knicks swung a commerce for one more piece in try and make a push up the standings. New York acquired Cam Reddish from the Atlanta Hawks in change for a 2022 first spherical decide initially owned by the Charlotte Hornets and fourth-year wing Kevin Knox. Reddish ought to present minutes on the wing for New York immediately, nevertheless it’s extra enjoyable to consider how the deal may affect the franchise’s future.
Only some years again, Duke basketball had one of many biggest freshmen courses in current reminiscence. The Blue Devils landed the highest three recruits within the nation for the primary time within the trendy historical past of school basketball in RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish. Duke additionally had one other consensus top-20 recruit in Tre Jones.
Whereas Barrett was the consensus high prospect heading into the yr, Williamson instantly emerged as a supernova. He was one of many nice abilities faculty basketball has seen over the past decade, and it made each Duke sport really feel like a must-watch. Whereas Williamson thrived, Barrett and Reddish additionally had their moments. Duke earned a No. 1 seed within the NCAA match and was the favourite to win the nationwide championship earlier than getting surprised by Michigan State within the Elite Eight.
Williamson was the no-brainer high prospect heading into the draft, with 14 NBA groups hanging on the lottery outcomes to see who would get him. The New Orleans Pelicans jumped approach up the order to be the surprising winners of the No. 1 decide and the rights to Williamson. The Knicks got here in with the third decide. Williamson was reportedly bummed to see Knicks fall to No. 3 as a result of he’s all the time had an affinity for enjoying in Madison Sq. Backyard.
Zion went No. 1 to the Pelicans, the Knicks took Barrett at No. 3, and Reddish went No. 10 to the Atlanta Hawks.
Quick ahead two and a half years, and Barrett and Reddish are collectively once more enjoying in New York. Williamson hasn’t performed a sport all season as he recovers from a foot damage, however he’s been unimaginable for the Pelicans when he’s really on the courtroom. Sadly for the Pelicans, Zion’s love of New York has by no means actually dissipated. There have been stories he’s been upset with the route of the Pelicans, and he by no means misses a possibility to discuss how a lot he loves Madison Sq. Backyard.
Now Williamson’s shut associates Barrett and Reddish are collectively on the Knicks. Williamson stays caught in New Orleans, and he may not play all yr due to this foot damage. All three gamers have yet another yr left on their rookie contracts after which will grow to be extension eligible. Anybody who doesn’t signal an extension can have two choices: a) grow to be a restricted free agent and provides their incumbent workforce the best to match any provide, or b) play on a one-year qualifying provide after which hit restricted free company the following yr.
Williamson will nonetheless possible get a max extension provide from the Pelicans regardless of his damage points. He must flip down a contract doubtlessly value $200 million for the best to choose his workforce beginning together with his sixth professional season. That’s an enormous threat for somebody together with his damage historical past, although maybe Zion’s profitable endorsement offers make it extra palatable.
It’s no secret Zion loves New York. It’s additionally no secret Zion loves Reddish and Barrett. With the Knicks transfer to land Reddish on Thursday, it’s attainable New York is laying the groundwork to in the future land Zion. It’s nonetheless sophisticated getting Williamson to New York, however at this level it’s laborious to think about him enjoying anyplace else on his subsequent workforce.
Are the Knicks going to pluck Tre Jones from the Spurs subsequent? What about buying Marques Bolden from the Jazz’s G League workforce? The Knicks are getting the 2019 Duke band again collectively, they usually simply want Zion to complete the job.
The Knicks simply higher hope they don’t see Cassius Winston or another Spartan within the close to future, as a result of we all know how that one turned out.
For now, Barrett and Reddish are reunited on the Knicks. Zion is sidelined within the current, and his future stays unknowable. It simply isn’t laborious to think about all three coming collectively once more in the future in New York.