Knicks don’t want to ‘disrupt’ their culture in pursuit of a superstar

NBA: Playoffs-New York Knicks at Philadelphia 76ers, tom thibodeau
Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks’ expected offseason hunt for a superstar won’t come at the expense of the culture they’ve established this season.

The Knicks looked prime to advance to their first Eastern Conference Finals since 2000 in the 2024 NBA Playoffs, but suffered a disappointing Game 7 loss to the Indiana Pacers in the second round, ending their season on Sunday.

Seeing that they couldn’t make a deep playoff run yet again, the onus on landing a marquee player this summer is as high, if not higher than it was prior to the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

Thus, the Knicks will be major players for a handful of franchise-altering players that will hit the free agent market or surface on the trade block. What they don’t want to do is infiltrate their balanced ranks with a player that could tip that in the wrong direction.

Knicks will protect their culture in deciding which superstar to add next season

Dec 5, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau talks with New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) on the sideline against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first half at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletic’s Fred Katz revealed this about the Knicks’ mindset heading into the offseason, (h/t Jordanna Clark of Daily Knicks):

“The Knicks will search for the next great player, but they also will hope not to disrupt the culture that helped most of their roster to career years and encouraged the players to keep swinging, even as if they couldn’t feel their arms,” Katz wrote.

“I think (the future) is very bright,” Josh Hart said.

The future indeed is bright in New York. Considering that they advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference Semifinals with the litany of injuries they dealt on the 2024 side of the season speaks to just how much stronger they could be once 2024 All-Star Julius Randle, the NBA’s leading offensive rebounder Mitchell Robinson, and Bojan Bogdanovic return.

The Knicks’ culture is currently predicated around floor spacing and ball movement in the half-court and exceptional defense on the other end. They’ve always prided themselves on their ability to contain opposing offenses, but the fluidity of their offense was something that was lacking until this year.

Donte DiVincenzo was a major reason why that changed for the Knicks. His efficient three-point shooting, movement without the ball, and selflessness in making the extra pass when defenses collapsed helped New York shoot more efficiently, ignite runs, and play faster. Other players like OG Anunoby and Alec Burks added to that paradigm while Isaiah Hartenstein brought another layer of toughness and glass-cleaning to the Knicks’ interior.

A ball-dominant superstar may not be the answer for the Knicks

May 8, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) celebrates in the fourth quarter  after scoring against the Indiana Pacers during game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks were still a team that relied on isolation with Jalen Brunson and often let the MVP candidate get to his spots late in the shot clock. Thus, if they were to bring on a high-usage superstar next to Brunson, that could stagnate the way in which the ball moves and take touches away from key role players, a la Miles McBride. This could run the risk of throwing off their rhythms.

Of course, the reward for going all in on a generational talent outweighs the risk nine times out of ten, but the Knicks’ protection of their culture likely means that they’ll be cautious about just which superstar talent they tack on, and not just go for whichever one they can get.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: