You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Knicks.
Are we in a youth rebuilding process or are we gathering assets for free agency? If we determine it’s the former let the fans know so we can be patient with the coach and the front office. — Egleton
New Knicks president Leon Rose was hired March 2, but has yet to talk to the media about his vision.
Nevertheless, Rose’s mission doesn’t appear that far off from former president Steve Mills’. The Knicks are technically rebuilding but anxious to add a superstar to the young core sooner than later.
As The Post reported Dec. 25, the Knicks are hopeful a disgruntled star emerges for a potential trade — with the 2020 free-agent class short on stars.
The Knicks had their eye on 2015 No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns, Rose’s former client. However, if Rose hires former Wolves pilot Tom Thibodeau as head coach, that might not work. There’s a mutual distaste.
However, trading for 35-year-old point guard Chris Paul became a thing the moment Rose inked his Knicks contract. Paul is Rose’s favorite client, was in the midst of a throwback/All-Star season and mans the Knicks’ weakest position.
Mills was dead-set against adding a player of Paul’s age and contract.
There is so much uncertainty with the coronavirus pandemic, but one thing is for sure: the salary cap will be lowered, according to league sources. On the surface, that makes it advantageous to build around younger players on cheaper contracts.
That said, if Rose has young assets to tempt the Thunder this offseason, sliding Paul into cap space will be easier than fitting in a top free agent. That’s because the Knicks would have to give up pacts such as those of Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox to make the trade.
According to sources, with the pandemic creating an economic crisis for the NBA, teams might be eager to unload their giant contracts. Because the cap won’t be as high, the luxury tax looms larger. OKC has been fearful of the luxury tax, having once dumped James Harden.
Paul stands to make $41 million next season and $44 million in 2021-22. You can swallow now.
Short of adding a Paul or another star via blockbuster, signing 2020 free agents on short-term deals — as Mills and GM Scott Perry did last summer — looks likely.
The 2021 class is loaded — and led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who may seek a bigger market than Milwaukee.
Rose was hired to deliver the star player that Mills failed to land. Rose is on the clock.
Why didn’t the Phil Jackson era work? — Yaron Rahmani
As “The Last Dance” underscores, Jackson’s work in Chicago was impeccable. He managed the divergent personalities, using his Native American ways of knowing, turning Michael Jordan into a team-first player/passer. Unfortunately, as Knicks president, Jackson got stubborn on proving his triangle was the end-all and be-all.
Once he hired Jeff Hornacek and resistance to the triangle surfaced, Jackson needed to let Hornacek coach the team with an offense of his choosing. In his playing career, Hornacek was one of the smartest players and had his own ideas. If Carmelo Anthony had embraced the triangle like Jordan did, Jackson’s presidency could have succeeded. Anthony’s disdain for the triangle even affected Kristaps Porzingis.
As for his transactions, opposing GMs and agents long thought the Zen Master was insufferable. No one was willing to do Jackson any favors.
The biggest miscalculation for Jackson was signing Anthony to a five-year, $120 million deal and giving him a no-trade clause. Jackson figured Anthony would want out if the team lost. But the Brooklynite wanted to remain — until Jackson greased the skids.
Are Rose’s Knicks interested in Lonzo Ball? What would it take to pry him from the Pelicans? — Matthew Lau
The Knicks revered the playmaking point guard in the 2017 draft and rated him higher on their board than No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz. The Knicks were willing to put up with his eccentric father, LaVar Ball. After his coach-killing behavior in Los Angeles, LaVar behaved after his son was traded to New Orleans. The father focused more on his younger son, point guard LaMelo Ball, playing in Australia.
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The Knicks would have more interest in LaMelo, who probably will be a top-three pick in the upcoming draft despite playing Down Under. The Knicks seek a scoring point guard in the draft and the 6-foot-7 LaMelo has the most upside despite a shaky delivery on his perimeter jump shot. Lonzo Ball also had struggled with technique but rebuilt his shot and is on the rise.
Do you think the Knicks ownership will ever change? Ever since the Isiah Thomas fiasco, something is rotten in Denmark. — Rod Gocool
At least Denmark has free healthcare and recently was ranked No. 1 for “the most contented country in the world,” according to a Gallup poll. The Knicks’ fan base is mired in a nearly 20-year stretch of discontent.
James Dolan has gotten most things wrong in trying to turn the Knicks into a winner on the court and now goes against his inclination to pry Masai Ujiri from Toronto and takes a chance on an agent who has never worked for an NBA team.
Dolan is not selling because he doesn’t want to be viewed a quitter. The blues guitarist could have an edge post-coronavirus because by far his best trait is pouring loads of money into the franchise. Other owners are expected to be a lot thriftier as the NBA deals with unspeakable revenue losses.
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