The 2018/19 season has been nothing short of a disaster for the New York Knicks. But because the Knicks have only been to the postseason five times since 2000/01, winning just nine games across those appearances, another early end to the season won’t come as a surprise. That said, with just 13 wins through 68 games, the team could well finish with a franchise record for fewest wins in a season. The season was typified by the Knicks losing 18 games in a row through January and February.
However, there is optimism for next season, with a huge free agency on the way, plenty of cap space to play with, and the potential of the first overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Setting up for the huge offseason
It didn’t shock very many that the team’s last remaining star, Kristaps Porzingis, wanted to leave the franchise, given its lack of direction and continued struggles. In a trade with the Dallas Mavericks, the Knicks sent 2018 All-Star Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr, Trey Burke, and Courtney Lee for DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and Dennis Smith Jr.
The trade made a lot of space for the Knicks as they now have two max slots and managed to shed the long contracts of Hardaway Jr and Lee. Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, and Jimmy Butler are set to hit the free agency this summer, and the thinking is that the Knicks will push to add at least one superstar. Owner James Dolan is confident that the team will be able to attract top players in the free agency.
Given their appalling record, the New York Knicks would be the favourites to land the top of the draft class this summer in any other season, but for the 2019 NBA Draft, the rules have changed. Now, all three of the worst teams in the NBA, regardless of the difference in their number of wins, will get odds of 14 per cent to land the first overall pick. While Zion Williamson is the ultimate prize of the draft, the likes of Ja Morant, Rui Hachimura, and RJ Barrett are also top players in the making.
Will a big offseason be enough?
While the strength of a team’s division doesn’t completely dictate the outcome of the season, the 16 inter-division matchups certainly have an influence. As it stands, the Knicks are in the toughest division in the NBA. For the 2018/19 NBA Championship, the NBA betting has the Toronto Raptors at +850, the Philadelphia 76ers at +1400, and the Boston Celtics at +1600, all of which fall in the top-six rated teams.
It’s a very tough division, despite the Raptors, 76ers and Celtics potentially losing a star player each, and even if the Knicks snag the number one overall pick and an elite-level free agent, it seems unlikely that they can challenge for the division’s crown. But, they should be able to put in a positive win percentage and maybe sneak into the top eight of the conference.
This offseason will be very telling of the future of the franchise with the golden opportunity to add some real star power over the summer. If the Knicks succeed, they could be back on the right track for the first time in a very long time.