Jake Brown | Twitter |
Remember when the Knicks were 17-14? We were all talking about this being a playoff team and how fun it was to watch them play and continue to develop. That seems like ages ago. The are now a season-worst five games back for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But that all takes a back seat now to the news that Kristaps Porzingis has a torn ACL and will be out for the season.
The worst part of this is how it affects the Knicks' future.
The Knicks weren't making the playoffs this year, but the main issue is that Porzingis will most likely miss at least the first half of next season as well. New York is going to have to potentially play 41 games next season -- and maybe even more -- without the face of their franchise. Essentially, this injury means throwing next season out the window as well.
On top of that, the Knicks just butchered the trade of their 23-year-old backup center, Willy Hernangomez. This comes after they basically sent Joakim Noah away. A once log-jammed frontcourt is basically left with Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn, and O'Quinn could end up being the next one to get traded.
The Porzingis injury changes the Knicks' future dramatically. Next season goes from what may have been a team competing for a playoff spot to likely another rebuilding year. Next season is also the final year of Porzingis' rookie deal, which will make things next summer very intriguing.
Scott Perry and Steve Mills are going to have a wild offseason ahead putting the roster together for the 2018-2019 Knicks. This team will surely have a Top 10 pick in the NBA Draft this summer. And they need to draft a player who can have an immediate impact -- not another multi-year project player like Frank Ntilikina.
They also aren't going to have a ton of money to spend this offseason. The Knicks are stuck with paying Noah $18 million whether he's traded or waived. They have to pay Lance Thomas $7 million next year, which was another bad contract. They are going to have to figure out if they want to keep Courtney Lee or trade him and clear money up to get a big name free agent in here this summer. You would think they pick up Enes Kanter's option for next year, especially considering the Porzingis injury. There are a ton of question marks on this roster, and Tim Hardaway, Jr.'s struggles and injuries only make where this team is headed even more concerning.
Porzingis continues to be injury-prone, and who knows if this guy will ever play a full 82-game season. "The Lizard" can't recover too quickly from a torn ACL, and the Knicks have to be careful about when they bring him back.
Another concern is the fact that most players decline after a torn ACL, especially in the NBA. The stats prove that. It's such an impactful injury on a player that he may not be the same when he gets back -- and he's only 22. It's very alarming for the Knicks at this point that the fate of their franchise rests on a kid who can't stay healthy and will be coming off a torn ACL.
For the rest of this season and next season, we'll see a lot of growing pains with this team. We'll also likely see a new head coach next season. We'll see Ntilikina get a lot more playing time. We'll see a lot more Trey Burke. The Knicks will probably call up Luke Kornet to play from the G League and maybe even Isaiah Hicks as well.
It's painful as a fan to have to go through this again not only these next couple of months, but likely next season as well. This team has lost enough, and it's going to continue for the foreseeable future. Hopefully Porzingis returns next January/February and looks as good as ever, but it's hard to think that or anything positive with how all the dominos are falling right now for this franchise.