How Should the New York Knicks Rebuild Their Broken Franchise?

The New York Knicks are a disaster. From a terrible product on the court to an even worse product off of it, the team has almost nothing going for it. After years of teasing fans with the possibility of landing superstars such as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the team struck out on all fronts and is once again at the bottom of the league in nearly every way imaginable.

As the team looks to right the ship under Leon Rose, many wonder if it can rebuild and how. 

Manage their money and personnel wisely

If nobody wants to play for the Knicks, the team obviously cannot pay them. However, the Knicks have a knack for signing players to deals just because they will sign there. Julius Randle and Bobby Portis signed large deals with the team after it struck out with its primary targets. On top of this, Taj Gibson signed a value deal and the since-traded Marcus Morris signed a hefty one-year deal. 

None of these contracts are catastrophic, but they show a trend of the Knicks paying players based on name recognition or possible value elsewhere more than their value to this team. All of the players mentioned above are in similar roles and positions, causing a log jam for the coaches and players to deal with. The team has shown a willingness to spend, but it has shown no discretion when it comes to how it spends money.

Combine this with the team’s inability to keep a coach, president, or general manager, and it is clear that the Knicks have a lot of work to do.

The Knicks need to make better draft picks

The Knicks have been a lottery team far more often than they have been a playoff team under Dolan’s ownership. On one hand, this can help build a team, as missing the playoffs gives teams a better chance at drafting a player who can fix it. In the Knicks case, however, it has led to multiple missed opportunities. When the team isn’t trading away its picks in lopsided deals that aren’t to its benefit, its draft history isn’t great. 

In the last three years alone, the team has drafted RJ Barrett third overall, Kevin Knox ninth overall, and Frank Ntilikina eighth overall. The year before that, the team did not have a pick thanks to an ill-fated trade for notorious Raptors bust Andrea Bargnani. Barrett, Knox, and Ntilikina have all disappointed. The last good pick, Kristaps Porzingis, struggled to stay on the court and meet his potential before being traded. 

The Knicks cannot grow if they do not hit on some draft picks, and the team has not shown an ability to do so. For a lottery team, this is often a death knell. 

Seek out new ownership

In professional sports, with few exceptions, a team is as good as its owner. If this is the case for the New York Knicks, the team is in great trouble. James Dolan is the head of the most valuable team in the NBA but seems perfectly content not letting the product on the court justify this. Just because a team loses, it does not mean that the owner is bad, but in the case of the Knicks, Dolan’s impact might be their biggest hindrance. 

Dolan alienates practically everyone. On more than one occasion, he has fought back at fans who have called him out at games by having them kicked out of the arena and punished for voicing their opinions. Recently, he sparred with Knicks superfan Spike Lee, who caused waves when he was recorded arguing with Knicks employees about an entrance he was using. Even former players get Dolan’s wrath. 

Charles Oakley, who was never one to shy away from a scuffle, notoriously got kicked out of a game and sparred with Dolan. The other parties involved in all of these disagreements might have shared some of the blame, but Dolan is at the center of all of them. He meddles with the team’s affairs, puts out mediocre products, and focuses his assets on the wrong things. Because of this, it is hard to imagine the team ever being consistently great under his ownership.