Rumors have been circulating that the New York Knicks are heavily interested in using the number eight pick in this years NBA draft on Oklahoma’s Trae Young. Young is one of the biggest names in the draft after averaging 27.4 points and 8.7 assists per game in his freshman season. He has dealt with the all the pressures of being in the national spotlight after compiling 30 point double doubles in his sleep. Young might be the most capable of handling the media in New York. Unfortunately, the Knicks problems have not been from players under-performing due to the pressures of New York, but more so the decisions of owner James Dolan.
Dolan took over as owner in 1999 and it is safe to say that the organization has taken more steps backwards than forward. During his tenure as owner, the Knicks have had 11 different head coaches and the hiring of David Fizdale will be their 12th. Since 2001, they have only had three winning seasons and their best result was an appearance in the second round in 2012 where they lost 4-2 to the Indiana Pacers.
Dolan has been known to have a short leash with coaches considering the longest tenured coach under his control was Mike D’Antoni, which lasted three and a half seasons. D’Antoni was the 2017 NBA Coach of the Year with the Houston Rockets and that has to pain Knickbocker faithful. Dolan signed legendary coach Larry Brown in 2005 to a five-year 50 million dollar contract and then proceeded to fire him after one season.
The lowest points for the Knicks were when Dolan gave the general manager position to Isaiah Thomas. They went from a playoff team in 2003 to, in 2006, having the league’s second worst record along with the highest payroll in the NBA. The cherry on top was that they didn’t own their pick because Thomas traded it for… Eddy Curry. Any competent owner would have fired Thomas, but instead he was given an extension and given a new position as head coach. David Stern, in 2007, criticized Dolan and the Knicks saying, “they’re not a model of intelligent management.”
The Knicks now are in recovery mode from the disaster that Phil Jackson left them in. Joakim Noah, 33, is on contract for the next two seasons for 19 million a year, making him their second highest paid player next to Enes Kanter. Noah is well past his prime and his style of play has been rendered obsolete in today’s NBA. They drafted Tim Hardaway Jr. traded him to the Hawks and then overpaid to get him back as a restricted free agent. Their centerpiece Kristaps Porzingis is going to be coming off of a torn ACL and is due for a new contract after next season. They do not have their second round pick in this year’s draft either since they traded it for the acquisition of Scott Perry from the Kings.
Perry spent three months as VP of basketball operations in Sacramento. In that time, he signed Zach Randolph, Vince Carter, and George Hill. The three signings did more damage to the Kings than good. Hill had his three year 57-million-dollar contract dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers at the trade deadline. Z-Bo and Carter stole valuable playing time from an extremely young cast of players who needed the time to develop. Perry spent 2012 to 2016 with the Orlando Magic as an assistant GM. The Magic have only had over 30 wins once since then. Perry did spend time in the Piston’s front office in the mid 2000’s and during their championship season in 2004 to provide a ringing endorsement for him.
The Knicks track record of draft picks under Dolan has been flat out abysmal. Any player that they have drafted that has any success in the league had their best moments away from the Knicks. Players like David Lee, Channing Frye, Nate Robinson, Wilson Chandler, and Danilo Gallinari all had majority of their success after leaving the Knicks after being drafted by them. A majority of their picks have barely made any impact in the league. Fans may remember when they reached to take Ronaldo Balkman in the first round or Jordan Hill at pick number eight. If you can’t remember that far in the past, last year they took Frank Nitilikina five picks before Rookie of the Year candidate Donovan Mitchell. He averaged 5.9 points and 3.2 assists per game this year. The jury is not out yet on Ntilikina, but its safe to say he has a long ways to go. If Young gets drafted to the Knicks, the chances of the front office building a team around him is fairly slim.
The Knicks have made mind-boggling bad decisions over the last two decades. The coaching and GM positions have been revolving doors, stunting any type of player growth and leaving young players out to dry. The common denominator during these two decades has been Dolan and one can only hope he has learned his lesson. History might contradict that as he has struggled getting it right for two decades now. Young has a ton of potential and it would be a real shame if he fell into the Knicks vortex of mediocrity. Come June 21st we will see whose fate they control.