It’s fair to say if NBA fans were asked at the beginning of June to predict the New York Knicks’ starting 5 for next season, no one would have predicted what the line-up looks like now.
With Derrick Rose and Courtney Lee set to make up the backcourt, Carmelo Anthony, Kristapz Porzingis and Joakim Noah as the bigs, the Knicks have become a potential Eastern contender for the 2016-2017 season!
On the 22nd of June, Phil Jackson began the transformation of his Knicks team with undoubtedly the biggest trade of the summer. Superstar PG Derrick Rose, the 2011 MVP was traded along with Justin Holiday and a 2017 second round pick from the Chicago Bulls to New York. In return, the Bulls received big man Robin Lopez, and two of New York’s point guards, Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon.
The trade sent shockwaves through the NBA, as the hero of Chicago Derrick Rose finally moved from his home to the Big Apple to pursue new ventures in his career.
Having missed out on the playoffs narrowly last season, the Bulls have clearly decided it’s time for a fresh start, and offloading the former MVP was the start of that transition.
New York went from a rebuilding team to a playoff contender in the space of 24 hours, as the combination of Rose, Anthony and Porzingis had Knicks fans licking their lips. New York’s point guard troubles appeared to have finally come to an end.
With Rose now in New York, unrestricted free agent Joakim Noah had lost his superstar point guard in Chicago. New York had traded away their starting center to Chicago, leaving a gap for a big man in free agency. Having spent many years playing with Derrick Rose, Noah didn’t want to let their years of competing for a championship together go to waste. On July 1st, Joakim Noah uploaded a photo of him wearing a Knicks hat to instagram. He was signing for New York.
With a 4 year, $72 million contract tied down, Noah joined all-stars Rose and Melo, as well as the sophomore Kristapz Porzingis.
The only position in the starting 5 left to be filled was Shooting Guard. Rumours and names began to fly around the league, with Dwayne Wade even being linked with a move to New York. Could you imagine that?
On July 2nd, it was announced that Courtney Lee had agreed a 4 year, $50 million deal with New York. The 30 year old became a center piece of the Charlotte Hornets’ season last year, as he stepped up to the mark when first choice shooting guard Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went down with injury.
Phil Jackson has taken the ‘win now’ approach at long last, the mindset that the Knicks fans have wanted for so long. In the space of a fortnight, New York went from having a boring, mediocre, unattractive roster, to an exciting, sexy and a potentially winning one.
Carmelo Anthony’s loyalty to his home has finally paid off, as he is surrounded with quality players at long last. The starting 5 looks like a group that could challenge the Cavs in the East.
Of course the major issue about the new players are injuries. Derrick Rose has had a career overshadowed by injuries. Last season, he played 66 games, and averaged 16 points and 5 assists. When healthy, Rose is one of the best guards in the Eastern Conference, and is often unplayable when he gets hot. His passing ability often goes under the radar, but will be utilized in a big way with Carmelo, Porzingis and Courtney Lee all able to knock down shots consistently.
Joakim Noah was the NBA Defensive Player of the year just 2 years ago. Since then he has been hit with injuries. Last season, Noah only played 29 games, starting just 2 of them. He averaged 4 points, and 9 rebounds per game. Noah has a reputation for being an elite defender. When healthy, he is one of the most effective centers in the league with his aggressiveness, passion, and his hustle. He has also averaged double digit points in 5 of his 9 seasons in the NBA. Being from Manhattan, Joakim Noah is likely to be even more passionate wearing the Knicks uniform.
Courtney Lee started last season in Memphis, and started 37 of his 51 games, averaging 10 points per game. He was then traded to the Charlotte Hornets and started all 28 games he played, finishing with 9 points per game. He also featured in the playoffs for the Hornets, playing 7 games and scoring 8.6 points on average. Lee is often described as a ‘3 and D’ player. He knocks down 3’s consistently, and is regarded as a very good defender in his position. His defence could prove to be crucial for a Knicks team that appears to be offensively-minded. The 30 year old is a catch-and-shoot type guard, which will work well as he is unlikely to have many touches of the ball with Rose and Melo controlling the movement of the ball.
This offseason has proved to be a successful one for Knicks president Phil Jackson. With a new head coach, Jeff Hornacek, and a new and improved line-up, the New York Knicks look like a real threat in the Eastern Conference once again. Who knows, they might not even be done yet?