The New York Knicks took a significant step forward this past campaign by securing its first playoff berth in nearly a decade. The Knicks‘ success quickly created some promising buzz around the franchise heading into the pivotal offseason ahead. However, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith just caught the wrath of Knicks fans after his latest take.
The Knicks are coming off an impressive season
The Knicks blew past all expectations this past season by securing its first playoff berth in eight years.
New York garnered the fourth overall playoff spot behind the collective play from the balanced roster. Julius Randle emerged as a legitimate star talent behind a breakout campaign earning him his first All-Star selection and the Most Improved Player award.
Meanwhile, head coach Tom Thibodeau earned his second Coach of the Year award after guiding the Knicks to the playoffs. New York’s success created plenty of buzz around the franchise for this upcoming offseason.
However, Stephen A. Smith found a way to catch the wrath of all Knicks fans after this latest take.
Stephen A. Smith just found a new way to piss off Knicks fans
As the offseason nears closer, the rumor mill continues to ramp up around star guard Damian Lillard’s long-term future with the Portland Trail Blazers.
It’s sparked chatter concerning trade landing spots for the six-time All-Star, leading to the New York Knicks emerging as a possible destination. During ESPN’s First Take on Monday, Smith suggested the Knicks offer whatever it takes to acquire Lillard.
“Give them anything they wanted,” Smith said. “I would give them Barrett, I would give them Randle, I would give them Obi Toppin, I would give them Mitchell Robinson, I would give them Emmanuel Quickley, I would give them not one, not two, but three first-round picks. I would give the Portland Trail Blazers all that and a bag of chips just to get Damian Lillard.”
Lillard is one of the league’s best talents, but Smith proposing New York offering essentially everything to land the 31-year-old quickly sent fans into a frenzy. Fan reactions via social media ranged from calling Smith’s opinion one of the worst Knicks ‘ takes of all time while another fan begged him to never talk about the franchise again.
Although the suggested trade scenarios would leave the Knicks roster extremely thin, it’s based on the belief that the star guard could convince other players to join him. Smith has never been afraid to go out on a limb, especially when it concerns his favorite team, and his comments this time around received an intense backlash.
Plenty of options lie ahead in the offseason
Beyond any potential pursuit of Lillard, the Knicks are expected to make an active push toward revamping the roster.
New York holds every intention of keeping Randle as a centerpiece for the franchise’s long-term future. The 26-year-old is entering the final year of his three-year, $62.1 million deal.
The question becomes what other talent the team can acquire to add to the core group. Various reports suggest the front office will work aggressively to add backcourt help, such as Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, Lonzo Ball, and Collin Sexton.
New York will have around $50 million in salary-cap space this summer to restructure the roster. The team holds a long history of falling short toward bringing bonafide talent aboard. However, the current roster led by head coach Tom Thibodeau may be intriguing enough to earn commitments from proven players.
Time will tell if New York changed outside perception to become a desired landing spot.