In the modern NBA, free agency can make or break a franchise’s fortunes. While drafting someone like Zion Williamson can be a game-changer, not everyone can land a lottery pick; in those cases, you have to land the big fish in free agency. While teams like the Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets have been able to attract plenty of star power, the New York Knicks haven’t been so lucky.
Despite playing in the Big Apple, the Knicks seem to whiff on virtually every free agent they pursue. Jared Dudley recently revealed one reason why the club can’t seem to attract the biggest stars.
The New York Knicks free agency failings
From afar, the New York Knicks might look like an attractive club. In reality, however, no amount of history and glamour can convince free agents to sign up with the floundering franchise.
In 2010, Amar’e Stoudemire signed with the Knicks in free agency; midway through the season, Carmelo Anthony got his wish and arrived in New York via a trade. Those were the last two big-name players to join the club of their own free will. With each passing summer, the Knicks seemed to get further and further away from landing the stat of their dreams.
Despite a billboard near Madison Square Garden, LeBron James didn’t come to the Big Apple in 2018. This past summer, they couldn’t land Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant, both of whom came to New York but chose to join the Brooklyn Nets. Kemba Walker hails from the Bronx but decided to sign with the Celtics. The club even backed out of a meeting with Kawhi Leonard, apparently realizing they didn’t have a real shot of signing the forward.
Jared Dudley thinks there’s a practice facility problem
While Jared Dudley might not have ever been the star of a free agency class, he still has plenty of NBA experience. The forward has played in the association since 2007, suiting up for the Charlotte Bobcats, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Washington Wizards, Brooklyn Nets, and, currently, the Los Angeles Lakers.
All of that time in the league has given Dudley a unique perspective on the New York Knicks’ image. He feels that the team struggles to attract stars due to their practice facility, which sits north of New York City in Westchester.
“Listen, we bash on the Knicks because of how they’re run as an organization,” Dudley said in an interview with Bill Oram of The Athletic. “Seventy percent of the league would want to play for the Knicks. I lived in New York. New York is one of the best cities to play in. The Knick fans, besides Lakers fans, are probably No. 2 when it comes to popularity. People are just waiting for it to be, in their eyes, a competent (franchise).
“The first thing I would be doing? I’d be getting rid of that practice facility in Westchester,” he continued. “Nobody wants to live there, no one wants to commute there. You have to get as close to the city as possible. That’s why Brooklyn got Kevin Durant. I told DeAndre Jordan who told Kevin Durant: The practice facility is two minutes from (Barclays Center). They didn’t even know that. I lived in the city. It took me 12 minutes to get to the practice facility. That’s a huge bonus.”
Could a new practice facility really help the New York Knicks?
Complaining about having to drive to basketball practice is the epitome of a first-world problem, but Jared Dudley does have a point. The NBA’s top free agents have their choice of any team in the league; if the Knicks aren’t going to be a great team on the court, they have to nail all the extra details that make a player’s life a little better.
As Kevin Durant said after choosing the Nets, the New York Knicks are reliant on their history rather than their present. While a practice facility isn’t going to turn the club isn’t going to undo years of mismanagement, it would be a first step towards getting with the times. Free agents want to be part of a top-notch franchise with a vision, not chase after a dream that hasn’t existed for decades.