I’m not sure how many of you remember old school NES games, but one of my favorites was Ice Hockey. It was pretty primitive, and had no real goalie control, but was still playable. You could choose between three archetypes for your players, with each one having a specific skill set. The trick was to not have four of the same on the ice. Apparently nobody in the Knicks front office has played NES Ice Hockey.
The Knicks just snaked Marcus Morris away from the Spurs, and I am honestly baffled by the move. They totally have too many of the same guys, and are forgetting the Ice Hockey corollary. Unless they plan on running the first ever 4 power forward offense, I’m not really sure what they’re trying to accomplish. Let’s review.
First they signed Julius Randle. A young, improving player with upside, same timeline as the rest of the roster… totally made sense. Then they signed Taj Gibson, veteran leader who won’t need big minutes…I get it. Next was Bobby Portis and it at this point we had to start to wonder why the Knicks needed to sign three power forwards. Portis is youngish, and put up decent numbers for the Wizards so fine he can be the backup, and cut Taj down to like six minutes a game. Then this week happened.
Marcus Morris is an ok player. He can shoot a little, score a little and be a net positive on the floor. He also can have a hugely inflated sense of self and be a problem in the locker room. For a playoff team looking to add depth he would be a good signing. For a team headed for the lottery trying to develop several young wings and big men he is an unnecessary headache. For a team that just spent $100 million on three other power forwards it’s time for psychological exams.
Morris minutes can only come at the expense of the development of the Knicks young players. Between Mitchell Robinson, Julius Randle, Kevin Knox, R.J. Barrett and Bobby Portis there are only so many minutes to go round. With a crowded backcourt (Dennis Smith, Elfrid Payton, Alonzo Trier, Frank Ntikilina ) there isn’t a ton of flexibility for extra minutes at shooting guard for Barett or Knox. I havent even mentioned Taj Gibson or Wayne Ellington. So who sits so Marcus Morris can play?
Some Knicks fans have talked about Morris adding toughness, and the team competing for a playoff spot, but that also makes no sense. The Knicks are not one or two players away from contention right now. They own their own pick and would best be served by adding another piece with a high draft pick this year and giving their young players all the development time they can. Letting Marcus Morris lead them to an 8th seed doesent benefit anyone in the long-term.
Theres another team that also seems to have forgotten the Ice Hockey rule. Orlando drafted Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba and added them to a roster that already had Nikola Vucevic( all power forwards and centers).They partnered them with veterans D.J. Augustin, Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross and now the team competes for the eighth seed in the playoffs and gets a mediocre pick each season. They also just threw a bunch of money at their own Marcus Morris, Al Farouq Aminu.
If the Knicks intent is to shoot for the no-mans land of fighting Orlando and Charlotte for the last playoff spot in the conference for the next few years they are on the right track. If they are trying to become a championship contender they need to figure out what they have with their young players and keep some cap space open for the next great player available via trade or free agency to build around. I think it’s clear what path the Knicks have chosen.