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30 in 30: The 2021 New York Knicks

A new team president. A new coach. A new season. But with the same owner, will anything change for the New York Knicks?

Madison Square Garden by Jean-Baptiste Bellet is licensed under CC BY 2.0

30 in 30: The 2021 New York Knicks

Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes

If you can believe it, the NBA season is just around the corner. That’s a fact. And since it feels like forever since we’ve seen half of the league in action, we thought it’d be good to refresh our memories a bit. So, in the spirit of reminding ourselves that time is moving forward, let’s look ahead to the 2021 NBA Season, team-by-team.

The New York Knicks

2020 Record: 21-45

2020 Finish: 25th in the NBA, 12th in the Eastern Conference.

How It Started

Let’s be honest – the real answer to this question is simple: James Dolan.

Ever since he purchased the team in 1999, things haven’t been pretty. Only six postseason appearances since then, the latest being way back in 2013. The product that this owner has put on the court each year has been pretty abysmal.

The last time they were even remotely close to relevant in terms of competing for titles, Patrick Ewing and Allan Houston were still donning the uniform. Coming into the 2019-2020 season, they had one thing going for them – it couldn’t get any worse. They finished the 2018-2019 season dead last, so there was nowhere to go but up, right?

How It’s Going

That basement finish landed them the 3rd overall pick heading into last season. With that, the Knicks drafted RJ Barrett out of Duke. There were plenty of options in the free-agent market to potentially help Barrett, but do we really want to revisit that debacle? The worst part about it all was not only losing out on KD and Kyrie, but they lost out TO THE NETS! As a Mets fan, I know how it feels to be “kid brother”, and I imagine that must be how Knicks fans felt.

Barrett immediately became the face of hope for Knick fans everywhere. Of course, given the trajectory the franchise has been on for the last two decades, that hope was pretty tempered. I don’t think anyone who followed the team expected immediate playoff contention entering the 2019-2020 season, (with a starting lineup featuring Julius Randle and Taj Gibson), but can’t we at least have SOME nice things?

To nobody’s surprise, the squad lived up to expectations. They began the season with a record of 4-16. They didn’t get their fifth win until December. By the time COVID halted the season, the Knicks were 21-45, sitting 12th in the Eastern Conference. It likely came as a relief to Knicks fans that they wouldn’t be involved in the season once it picked back up in the Bubble. During the course of the season, they fired their coach (David Fizdale) and team president (Steve Mills). He was replaced by Leon Rose on March 2nd. It was yet another season of frustration, disappointment, and hand-wringing.

Final Minutes

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. As far as I’m concerned, as long as James Dolan is the owner, this will be the state of the Knicks organization. I have some experience with this type of situation – I’m also a Mets fan who was recently freed from the burden of the Wilpon regime in Flushing.

Coming into 2021, the Knicks have a few different ways they could go. They could look to make some splashy moves in an “attempt to compete”, or they could stand mostly pat and likely hit the bottom again this season. Given the recent history of ineptitude surrounding this franchise, it’s likely players won’t really WANT to play at Madison Square Garden. Once upon a time, some of the big names dreamt of coming to NY and delivering a Championship, but today’s superstars are gravitating increasingly toward Brooklyn instead. That’s a problem for the Knicks, as they begin to lose footing as the dominant basketball team in the Big Apple. There’s more buzz and excitement around Sabrina Ionescu and the New York Liberty than the Knicks, and rightfully so, because they’re exciting and have potential. If the Knicks hope to regain any prestige and glory around the franchise, they must become appealing again.

Will new coach Tom Thibodeau be able to coax any talent? Will Dolan allow Thibs and Leon Rose to lay some groundwork to build on? Time will tell, but in the short term, don’t expect much to change.

In reality, until James Dolan is no longer the owner, this franchise is not worth column inches.

Joe is an actor who grew up eating, living and breathing sports. He spent many an afternoon on the soccer or baseball field in his youth (and even gave several other sports a shot) before a series of events put him on the path to pursuing a performing career. Subsequently, he's worked almost every other type of job you could imagine while trying to support that endeavor. Whenever he's not working any of those jobs, he can often be found watching, playing or discussing sports in some way. Most of that banter revolves around the Mets, Giants, Rangers or Manchester United. His short term goal is to fully convert his fiance into a rabid sports fan, not someone who leaves the room whenever he turns a game on.

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