The NBA free agency period has begun and as of yesterday plenty of the league’s top eligible players have already snagged max contracts. The Free agency period is a time when players who are out of contract can be courted and signed by any franchise that is willing to pay their asking price. So far this offseason, the two teams that many expected to make the biggest push for talent have been the most silent. The Knicks and the Lakers, two of the NBA’s most storied franchises, have failed to lock up top talent so far. At the rate players are signing, it seems like both the Knicks and Lakers will be sitting on the sidelines with money to spend but nowhere to spend it. The biggest problem with the Knicks and Lakers is their history, both teams expect the most out of players, but neither team has been competitive for quite some time. The way free agency works these days is different from the past, players are no longer just looking for the highest payday, they are now looking to go where they can win and compete with the least added stress. While I am certain that both the Knicks and lakers will be competitive in the next 5 years, neither team is in a market that is comfortable with losing. New York and Los Angeles are big cities, with fans who spend the most money to watch basketball, even when the teams are awful. As a New Yorker, I don’t want to say we are spoiled, but I understand the requirement we have for winners, since prices here are high regardless of the level of play. Playing in big cities markets puts a great amount of stress on players, and players who can handle the pressure and play well are exactly what is desired and needed in NYC and LA. There are still a handful of fantastic free agents left to be had, I just hope the Knicks have a good enough proposal to land the talent necessary to compete next year.
The Knicks have done it again, they have managed to take what should be an exciting day for fans and make it stressful. As a Knick fan, I have resigned to the fact that they are bad, and that they are not necessarily known for making good decisions but they had a legitimate chance to make a big splash in last nights draft. This year’s draft class was not particularly strong, but there were a few players that seemed to be “game changers,” and the Knicks may have failed to grab one of them. The Knicks did the unthinkable and drafted European born player, Kristaps Porzingis, with the fourth overall pick much to the dismay of the entire city. Porzingis is very talented and might possibly be the best player in this draft, but New York fans want big flashy talent, and immediate results. The problem with drafting a foreign player is their lack of familiarity with the American style of basketball, and when they are picked this high in the draft, they almost always fail to live up to the hype. I am an upset fan, but at the same time, part of me fully expected the Knicks to somehow draft this guy. I really hope the Knicks management knows what they are doing, and that they make plans for this kid’s success. There is now a city worth of pressure on the shoulders of this 19 year old, and if he fails to deliver, the Knicks may not see relevance for another 10 years.
Today is the day of the NBA draft, it is the second most popular draft in American sports, and I am something of a sports fanatic so I have been fully drawn into the hype. Much like the NFL draft, this is an event in which dozens of young adults are made instant millionaires with the calling of their name. There is no science to the NBA draft, I mean, scouts study and interview players for months before naming a pick, but often times NBA draft picks just don’t pan out. On average, it seems as though only 8 out of the 60 players drafted in a single NBA draft actually make an impact in the league. The low percentage of success in the NBA for draft picks can be unnerving to a struggling franchise, so it pays to have the first pick in the draft, but even that is not a sure thing. Many notable players were passed on by the team choosing first, including Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant, and while there are some greats chosen first overall, the NBA draft is always full of surprises. This year is the first year in a long time that Knicks fans like myself have something to look forward to, as the Knicks actually own a top five pick. The Knicks have been known for their years of boneheaded picks and terrible management, but that could all change in an instant. The Knicks have expressed a desire to draft Duke Center, Jahlil Okafor with their pick, but it seems like the fourth pick owned by the Knicks may be too high to grab the highly touted freshman. I would love to see the Knicks draft a versatile player like D’angelo Russell, but if he too is not available, they may find themselves making another boneheaded Knicks move. I am pretty excited about tonight’s draft, I have my hopes set high for a positive move by the Knicks, I just don’t want to see my dreams dashed by more of the team’s poor management decisions.