Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive
With training camp primed to get underway Tuesday here are five of the more pressing questions facing the Knicks entering this season.
What impact will Derrick Rose have?
As splashy as New York's acquisition of Rose was, that's how big the question mark surrounding his contributions truly is at this point. His health is a concern, but following a 66-game campaign last season, perhaps his ability to stay on the court is trending in the right direction.
More uncertainty looms over his level of play. As Rose regains his health, can he inch closer to the more dominant player he once was? If not, will last season's numbers (16.4 points on 43 percent from the field and 4.7 assists) be enough to help the Knicks? Competing at a high level will be key, but it also remains to be seen how his forthcoming trial play into the team's schedule. That's not the type of dark cloud they want looming over their season, especially so early on as they embrace a more positive culture.
Will Joakim Noah remain healthy?
If things go south with Rose, the Knicks can cut their losses and escape without too many bruises. His contract expires next summer, so they won't be on the hook.
That's not the case with Noah, however. The decision to sign him to a lucrative $70 million, four-year contract has already been met with criticism. Following a 29 game season, many wonder if Noah's body (and his level of play, for that matter) will hold up over the course of his contract. Reeling him in for this long, and for that much, is a risk.
His signing, however, is further proof that the Knicks are committed to winning sooner than later. If healthy enough, Noah's acquisition will pay big dividends. He's a physical player who does all of the dirty work down low. A seemingly perfect complement (and mentor) to Kristaps Porzingis, Noah's court-vision should open things up for New York on offense as well.
Is there enough point guard depth?
Health and off the court issues aside, Rose is a massive upgrade from what the Knicks have had at point guard over the last two seasons. Pairing him up with Brandon Jennings (who has started 416 out of 460 career games with a 15.5 point per game average) makes the position a newfound strength for the team.
Despite a skillful 1-2 punch, the rigorous NBA season typically demands three floor generals in a team's depth chart. This should bode especially true for the Knicks, given the pair's injury history.
Following a strong Summer League, Chasson Randle could certainly be the answer. There's an outside chance he makes the roster out of camp, but more possibilities could arise when January (and the ability to sign players to 10-day contracts) arrives. If need be, New York could always make a move and sign a veteran guard midway through the season as well.
If Phil Jackson fails again, then what?
So far into his tenure as Knicks president, Jackson boasts two losing seasons, one of which stands as the worst in franchise history. This summer was met with a variety of moves, featuring upgrades at multiple positions and an experienced head coach. On paper, one would be hard pressed to deny the Knicks look ready and able to end their three year playoff drought.
Should this season result in yet another failure, where will Jackson go from there? Will he resign from his post and leave the Knicks hanging? If Jackson decides to see things through, he'll be met with decisions surrounding contracts the team has committed to, including Noah, Carmelo Anthony, Courtney Lee, Lance Thomas, etc. If things don't work out, Jackson will have a hole to crawl out of. That's even further proof that the time to win is now. The pressure is on.
How high is the ceiling for Kristaps Porzingis?
At just 21 years old, some have been quick to declare Jackson's initial first-round draft selection as a budding superstar. Following some awing individual performances, a strong freshman campaign, and a runner-up finish to Karl-Anthony Towns for the NBA's "Rookie of the Year" award, there's no doubt the future is bright for this shooting star. How high can he go, is the question.
In addition to high, how soon will Porzingis fly is another question to ponder. Should he make significant strides this coming season, will it be enough to dub the youngster Anthony's true right hand man and sidekick, over the likes of Rose and others? Porzingis' continued ascension will play a big role in what the Knicks do, both in the near future (competitively speaking) and the somewhat distant future (seeking improvements during next summer's free agency period).
The Knicks know Porzingis has the ability. This season is about building up a greater level of consistency and versatility while proving to be all the more dependable as a central piece of the team.
Bonus: How will Jeff Hornacek's tenure begin?
There's no denying that Hornacek was a surprise selection for the Knicks' coaching vacancy, given Jackson's track record and past preferences. Nevertheless, it's tough to ignore Hornacek's experience as both a player and coach and his past success. There should be optimism surrounding the possibilities, especially when taking into account Derek Fisher and Kurt Rambis were the team's previous coaches. This is an upgrade.
Motivating the players and getting them to buy into his vision for success will be key. Resonating with Anthony, the team's resident superstar, and Noah, a newly arriving defensive anchor, will be most important. What's more, observing the continued growth of Hornacek's relationship with Jackson will be interesting. The two will need to get along smoothly.