Good Morning! Don’t worry…I haven’t fully turned the page on the 2022-23 season just yet. I’ll have a few more newsletters this week looking back on the season that was, and then will spend some time breaking down some of what we saw in more detail both as a way to appreciate the past but also look forward to the future.
For today though, we begin to look ahead…
Top 5 Knicks Offseason Questions
A pick axe swings into the ice as the hand holding it pulls with all of its might.
Up comes a figure over the ledge, slowly but surely, as gusts of wind and snow do their damnedest to send him back from whence he came. He does not relent. Another step, then another, and then another. The axe continues to be his grounding force as he trudges his way up the mountain.
Equally grounding him is his mission. At the top of this summit, somewhere in the Himalayas, is the Dalai Lama. Many have made a similar pilgrimage to have an audience with this sagiest of sages, but this traveler’s mission is different from most. He is not risking life and limb to find out the meaning of life, or if there is a God, or any of the other questions that have haunted human beings for millennia.
No, because underneath his parka, this wayward soul is clad head to toe in blue and orange. From the city that never sleeps he came, and to that city he will return, hopefully with an answer to the question that has caused him so many sleepless nights. It is that eternal question that has plagued fans since our beloved Knickerbockers descended upon Maple Leaf Gardens to play the Toronto Huskies some 77 years ago.
It is the question of this offseason just like it is the question of every offseason, whether it follows a 17-win campaign or a 47-win one. And late June or early July would be too long to wait for an answer. The traveler needed to know now.
Finally, the traveler reaches the top. The doors of the temple open, and in the traveler walks. The goggles come off, the jacket unzips, and a custom made “BRUNS-HIM” city edition jersey glistens in the candlelight. The Lama sits, awaiting the query. the traveler drops to his knees.
Oh wise and humble one, I kneel before thee in need of guidance. I have but one question that has plagued me for as long as I can remember - since before We Here, before Phil, before Linsanity, before Isiah, before the 4-point play, before Charles Smith.
In truth, it seems I’ve pondered it since before I was born.
I know your time is valuable, so waste more of it I will not. My question is simple: Is this… finally…after all we’ve been through…is this the summer that…that…
…the traveler stopped to gather himself, gulping hard as he holds back tears, finally regaining the strength to utter the words…
…that we will use our bi-annual exception, and if we do, how will it impact our long term cap outlook under the new collective bargaining agreement?
Talk about a waste of a good climb.
Not even my cap-centric co-host Jeremy Cohen would squander his one question on such minutiae. To bring another sage if sadistic individual into the analogy, we may dread it, we may run from it, but destiny arrives all the same, and now it's here. Or should I say, the offseason is, and with it, the same question that lords over every offseason.
Whether you live for the idea or loath the notion with the passion of a thousand suns, the Summer of 2023 will be defined by whether or not the Knicks trade for a star.
Boom. Offseason question article over, see you in late June!
Okay, enough jokes…this winding preamble, longer and more absurd than the fictional journey described above, is over. My point:
The Knicks have a whole host of questions facing them this offseason, each of them important and essential in their own right. But the answers to those questions largely depend on the answer to THE question, to the point that everything else pales in comparison. If we knew whether the Knicks would/could/will trade for a star, it would be exponentially easier to have a conversation about everything else. But without that answer? Everything else is up in the air as well.
Will the Knicks move on from Julius? Depends on whether someone wants him in exchange for their star.
Will the front office do what it takes to keep IQ long term? Depends on if they can get better value using him in a package for a star.
Does New York believe in Quentin Grimes as a starting wing moving forward? Depends if they can get a star, what position that star plays, and who needs to go out in a deal for a star.
I could go on. And go on I will, perhaps futilely, with a Top 5 Offseason Questions list over the course of the next few days. Just keep in mind that whether you/me/we like it or not, there is no intelligible way to have a discussion about any of this without knowing what star may try and nudge his way to New York a few weeks or months from now, and in conjunction, how the front office will respond.
Actually, let’s take the second half of that last sentence and use it as a jumping off point for…
Question No. 1: How Thirsty is the Front Office?
Nothing makes me happier than when I, a 40-year-old man, can speak in the parlance of those less than half my age. It makes me feel young. I take what I can get.
“Thirsty,” according to our friends at Urban Dictionary, is the state of pining for carnal relations. I found this example to be quite helpful:
(Boy running up) "Ay gurl whasup? Look, you lookin real nice, can I get that young number?"
(Girl under breath) "Thirsty"
As UD notes, being thirsty doesn’t just mean you want it; it means you need it, almost as much as the air you breathe.
Translating this to NBA front office talk, if we’re to hone the star question into one that’s actually fruitful to discuss, I think this is the way to do it. Of course the front office wants a star…but do they pine for one as if there will be no tomorrow without one?
The answer may seem obvious at first glance. Wasn’t it this front office, after all, who dragged on the Donovan Mitchell negotiations to a farther point than any summer trade talks in recent memory? So unwilling were they to pony up Utah’s asking price that Cleveland had time to get in on the talks, then get out of the talks, then jump back in the talks when the whole ordeal dragged into September.
Maybe the way that played out speaks to New York’s patience, but there’s also way to view the Summer of Donovan.
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