Brooklyn Nets: Does Culture Win Championships?

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

It wasn’t supposed to come to this, but that isn’t a bad thing. 

In a newfound problem for the Brooklyn Nets, that exclusively applies to teams with top-flight talent, a power struggle has emerged within the organization. After a 2018-2019 campaign that saw an 8-18 beginning turn on the back of D’Angelo Russell, the Brooklyn Nets established a culture that made fans forget recent years of despair that was doomed by the infamous 2013 trade with the Boston Celtics. 

Culture became a buzzword for the Nets front office and fans as their overachieving 42-40 record offered promise after entering the season with diminished expectations and a self-proclaimed “system” that had produced little in the way of results. 

Caris Levert’s gruesome injury halted his promising start to the season, leaving behind a shattered locker room looking for a leader to step up. Through the wreckage emerged D’Angelo Russell, who along with a bunch of former cast-offs, guided the team through an obstacle-filled season. For this, Russell earned a spot on the Eastern Conference all-star team. 

Developing right next to Russell was his backup, Spencer Dinwiddie, who had proven to be a mismatch nightmare, seeking out big men and delivering the highest point per possession totals in the NBA throughout the season. Also making a rise from the scrap heap was Joe Harris, who developed a well-rounded game to make him a mainstay in lineups to close out games.

This was a welcome sight for coach Kenny Atkinson and general manager Sean Marks, who finally saw results after two tumultuous seasons at the helm. Rather than continuing to accumulate assets in hopes of striking a diamond in the rough, the Nets were suddenly in a position of power, with high-profile stars being linked to them consistently and public perception changing in a very vocal manner around the league. 

The veterans on the team were thorough in their praise of coach Atkinson, citing the system he developed as instrumental in helping the team blend perfectly and play to their strengths at all times. 

The signings of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Deandre Jordan on June 30 changed the landscape of the league, as the cellar-dwelling Brooklyn Nets were catapulted into the top-tier of basketball as a team with the firepower to push through the Eastern conference and go toe to toe with the fearsome superstars of Los Angeles out West. 

Durant and Irving have openly discussed the allure of a solid culture in their decision to come to Brooklyn. Since their signings, however, they have been behind many decisions that indicate their desire to rid the team of their old regime and insert their power in a way that has become customary for superstars around the league. The culture-oriented Nets are now at a crossroads, with each passing decision serving as a reminder that this league is run by superstars. 

When pressured by Durant and Irving, Marks nixed the idea of bringing in Carmelo Anthony, who at the time, had been shunned by all 30 teams in his attempt to make it back onto a roster. Although Marks was able to put his foot down in this instance, the subsequent firing of Kenny Atkinson beckoned the question: does culture win championships, or it is the superstars that do? The relevance of this conflict is an indictment of where the league stands. The players hold all the power

Perhaps Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant understand after seeing Atkinson’s style that he does not possess the qualities of a championship-level coach, and to me, that’s okay. After all, when you have the opportunity to sign two superstars after being mired in mediocrity, you hand them the keys and let them drive the franchise wherever they see fit. 

 

Brooklyn Nets: History is Meant to be Learned From

New Jersey Nets, Kenny Anderson

Owner Mikhail Prokhorov came in guns blazing following his purchase of the New Jersey Nets in 2010. With brash promises to fans including his infamous “five-year guarantee,” there was immense pressure from the start to build a contender. 

Rather than rebuild around young all-star center Brook Lopez, Prokhorov decided he wanted to make a splash.

This desperation was first displayed in 2011 at the February trade deadline. Looking to acquire Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony, the Nets were eventually outbid by the Knicks. Refusing to be overshadowed by his crosstown rival, Prokhorov turned around and dealt for star point guard Deron Williams, who at the time, was considered a premier point guard in the game. To facilitate the deal, the Nets needed to part with all-star point guard Devin Harris, promising former third overall pick Derrick Favors, as well as two likely lottery, picks in years to come. 

Williams was close friends with Dwight Howard, and the two immediately became enamored with the idea of teaming up. Finding a way to acquire Howard would vault the Nets into instant title contenders. The Nets offered four first-round picks and franchise cornerstone Brook Lopez for Howard, but Orlando declined. Content on waiting until Howard became a free agent to sign him, rather than deplete assets, the Nets pulled out of talks. On one fateful plane ride, Howard changed his mind. 

Former Magic guard JJ Redick detailed how casual this decision was. 

“you know what, I love you guys. I’m coming back. And really, that was it! That was it! There was no, like — there wasn’t a heart-to-heart, it was just he was having a good time on the plane and decided he wanted to come back.”

In the blink of an eye, the Nets needed to turn their attention to alternate ways of building a contender around their superstar point guard. 

The 2012 trade deadline marked the Nets’ first desperate attempt to come back from missing out on Howard. A last-minute deal saw the Nets land high-energy forward Gerald Wallace in exchange for negligent pieces and a top-three protected first-rounder. 

Ben Falk, a former Blazers analytics manager, wrote last year on his site Cleaning the Glass that when Portland realized the Nets not only wanted Gerald Wallace badly but were willing to give up a top-three protected first-rounder for him, “My heart hit the gas pedal.” 

That quote has aged like fine wine, contrary to the trade. That draft pick fell at sixth overall and was used to select superstar point guard Damian Lillard. Maybe you’ve heard of him. 

This theme of casual dumping of draft picks for veterans who did not move the needle continues to haunt the Nets to this day. In a salary dump that saw them expel the roster of Troy Murphy, the Nets threw in a second-round pick to sweeten the pot. That pick became Draymond Green. 

The move to Brooklyn in 2012 came with added expectations as it was Prokhorov’s big promise being delivered. The franchise became more marketable and immediately was thrust into a rivalry with the Knicks, who were coming off a successful season that saw them land in the second seed in the Eastern Conference on the backs of Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. The Nets, hoping to compete right away, re-signed Williams, Wallace, and Lopez to deals that would cap-string the team, and traded for Joe Johnson, another high-priced star who was exiting his prime. The trade was contingent on the re-signing of Williams, as Johnson held a no-trade clause and would only be willing to leave if he knew he was going to be playing for a contender. 

The first season with this new core ended in a bitter disaster. After showing promise en route to a 49-33 finish, earning home-court advantage in the first round, the Nets were shocked in the Barclay’s Center in an intense game seven after blowing a 2-1 series lead and a seemingly insurmountable game-four lead that was decimated by Nate Robinson catching fire in a way he hasn’t at any other point in his career. 

The pressure continued to mount for Porkhorov and general manager Billy King. This reached a tipping point on draft night in 2013, when desperation led to the final blow for a Nets roster that had been building disaster for the better part of two years. 

The Nets moved on from four draft picks and offered two pick-swaps, among other pieces, in exchange for 37-year-old Kevin Garnett, 36-year-old Paul Pierce, and 36-year-old Jason Terry. This left the Nets with a roster with championship aspirations, but marginal room for error. Every former star needed to perform exceptionally, which did not quite pan out. Instead, the next two seasons became a script for the concept of Murphy’s Law. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. 

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge gave a statement following the trade in regards to Brooklyn’s desire to push for a championship. “So, Brooklyn showed a great deal of interest in putting a Dream Team together at any cost,” he said. 

This desperation left the Nets with little leverage, and thus had every asset possible pulled out from their disposal and fast-tracked the Celtics quest to rebuild. 

When blended together, the Nets five stars were consistent in one thing: underachieving. Williams struggled with injuries, Garnett and Pierce struggled with declining performance related to age, and Lopez was unable to find a role in the offense, which had been just about the only thing keeping him afloat in his career. Johnson provided late-game heroics and consistent clutch performances, but past his prime, he was unable to carry the lineup past Lebron James and the Miami Heat. 

This era came to an abrupt ending, with Pierce leaving after one year, and Garnett being openly unhappy with his long standing running mate. Trading away Garnett for Thaddeus Young left the Nets with nothing from the 2013 trade that gutted their assets, after only 1.5 seasons. 

In the summer of 2015, Williams’ was waived using the stretch provision. This marked the end of his tumultuous tenure with the Nets, one that was defined by inconsistencies and a failure to take the grips of a franchise in need of a savior. Half a season later, Johnson was bought out, ridding the Nets of all of their vaunted starting five except for Brook Lopez, who found himself in a similar position as before the team acquired Williams in the first place. But even Lopez ended up falling victim to the blow-up of the roster, as the team traded him for frustrating headcase D’Angelo Russell, who had a world of potential but couldn’t figure it out under the tutelage of Magic Johnson and the Lakers. 

This era in Nets history will always be remembered with embarrassment by fans, as the toxic culture of the team made them difficult to root for and hard to watch. That being said, if it weren’t for these mistakes, the current roster would not have been possible to obtain. Prokhorov backed off and let his front office do their jobs, completing a full rebuild, and now, even after he has sold the team, the contender he thought he had back in 2013 has taken shape. 

Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving brings a consistency to the point guard position

Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Kyrie Irving

The Brooklyn Nets enjoyed elite point guard play for the first time since 2012 when Deron Williams was still on the team and the organization was just relocated from New Jersey to Brooklyn. Fast forward seven years and the entire concept of Brooklyn lured both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to the smaller team in New York.

Irving, though, brings a consistency to the point guard position the Nets haven’t seen in quite a while. D’Angelo Russell was fantastic in 2018, averaging 21.1 points per game and 7.0 assists. He was an All-Star and helped carry the Nets into a playoff appearance, despite losing in the first round to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The influence of an everyday premium point guard is significant, and the team will see the benefits this year. Irving has only dipped below 20 points per game (season average) twice in his eight-year career, the last being in 2015-16 with 19.6.

The primary issue with Irving is that to be quite frank, he’s a little crazy, and players have a hard time developing chemistry with him. He’s a very self-centered player, never averaging over 6.9 assists per game throughout his entire career (has never been top 10 in this category). While a number of Nets players were actively recruiting Irving to the Brooklyn, including Spencer Dinwiddie, it seemed as if he was coming all along.

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Irving is more offensively gifted than D’Lo, recording fewer turnovers and more points per game consistently. But while Russell seemed to elevate the players around him, at times Kyrie only helps himself. With Durant not on the floor for a majority of 2019, we will see how influential Irving really is, and if he can will the newly built team to a second consecutive playoff appearance.

A question arises — should the Nets have kept the youthful D’Angelo Russell in favor of signing Irving to a max deal?

Brooklyn Nets: Defending D’Angelo Russell

Brooklyn Nets, D'Angelo Russell

Ric Bucher was on Colin Cowherd’s show, the Herd, a few weeks ago and he had some choice words concerning former Brooklyn Nets point guard, D’Angelo Russell.

In this clip, Bucher makes one outlandish statement after another. Honestly, I couldn’t believe some of the things I was hearing. Ric Bucher called D’Angelo Russell “a me guy”, a younger Nick Young, and said Russell can’t fit in with what the Golden State Warriors like doing.

Let’s address these one by one shall we?

Nick Younger?
It seems no matter what, people refuse to let D’Angelo Russell grow passed the debacle he had early in his career with Nick Young. For those unfamiliar, during his rookie year, Russell recorded what should’ve been a private conversation with fellow teammate, Young.

The conversation revealed that Young was being unfaithful to Iggy Azalea, who was Young’s partner at the time. Admittedly this was a dumb move, but Russell is a very different person today. Russell, shy of one situation, has been a model citizen since his arrival in Brooklyn.

He’s worked hard, he’s been a leader, he’s led by example. Sean Marks and the Nets organization could hardly ask for more out of their former player. As far as personalities and behaviors go, since coming to Brooklyn, Russell and Young couldn’t be further apart.

Nick Young is a vibrant fun personality, but for his career, he was the class clown. He never quite knew when to take things seriously. Russell displayed a fun natured attitude, but in the right place and right time. That side of him usually showed while he celebrated his team on the bench or during the waterboarding of post-game wins. No shot at Nick Young whatsoever, but the culture in Brooklyn is built to withstand a character like Young, not built with or by said character.

D’Lo a Fit For Golden State?

How can someone look at D’Angelo Russell’s game and not think he was perfectly crafted for playing in the Warriors’ system. Let’s start with the fact that Russell had career-best shooting splits. He hit roughly 37% from distance.

On a team like that, where the 3 has really been their thing, you would be hard-pressed to find a shooter that wouldn’t fit that team.
With Russell, the Golden State Warriors get a great shooter from the mid-range. I know with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the world automatically think this team is all threes. What you may not know is that the Warriors have shot more and more mid-range shots.

D’Angelo actually has a mid-range game and he pulls it out often. With the opposition worried about Russell’s 3 ball, he is often able to pump fake or breakdown a defender. This leaves him for many mid-range jumpers for the taken. And he feels comfortable shooting them, even with some being more contested than the others.

Breaking down the defense has an added effect. It puts stress on the defense. Its puts D’Angelo Russell in position to use his vision and playmaking, both of which are things he’s known for doing more than well. Breaking down the defense gets shooters open and Russell has the size, vision, and playmaking ability to distribute the ball to teammates on time. He’ll be a good replacement for the team losing some playmaking in Andre Iguodala and probably Shaun Livingston. That, by the way, is another big difference between Swaggy P and D’Lo. Russell is a much more willing to distribute the ball.

Me’Lo

And that brings me to my next point, Ric Bucher called Russell a “Me Guy”. Now I’m not sure if Ric Bucher has a source that tells him Russell is a totally different person behind closed doors, but Russell is anything but a me guy. He loves playmaking for teammates.

After post-game-winning waterboarding, Russell would always give teammates credit. Russell always thanked Coach Kenny Atkinson and the developmental coaching staff. He never lets the veterans become forgotten in the wake of his success. When the Brooklyn Nets clinched a playoff spot and we beat the Miami Heat towards the end of the season, D’Angelo did not allow too much time be spent on him and his team. He immediately changed the topic to the newly retired NBA legend, Dwayne Wade.

Early in the season when Russell would get benched for mistakes, he never showed signs up frustration or attitude for losing time to teammates. You can’t build a foundation and a culture such as the one the Brooklyn Nets has built over the years with a “Me Guy” as a leader. It’s built to be able to absorb guys like that without hitches, not to use guys like that as the first brick being laid.

It really seems like the NBA and its media won’t give D’Angelo Russell his just dues outside of Brooklyn. Slightly before, during, and after the Warriors acquired Russell, he was already in trade rumors.

Now we have Ric Bucher’s unchallenged opinion that he’s completely entitled to. But Russell has grown too much as a player and a man for people to downplay or ignore that growth. And just because he is no longer a member of the Brooklyn Nets, doesn’t mean I should turn an eye to him if someone is doing him a disservice. D’Angelo Russell has a lot to do with the Nets having the off-season they did this year. D’Lo will always have a home here.

How the New York Knicks can utilize Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

Striking out in free agency when it comes to bringing in superstars certainly didn’t help the New York Knicks‘ point guard problem. But maybe it isn’t a problem at all with Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina featuring at the position.

The question will be — how can the New York Knicks utilize both and extract the most value?

Smith Jr. is the option with more optimism and scoring proficiency while Ntilikina is a defensive maestro that can lock down players in that facet. However, he’s a terrible scorer and hasn’t shown any growth in that respect.

How will the Knicks utilize both? I anticipate Smith Jr. will be the primary starter on an everyday basis while Frank plays a reserve role that features in defensive situations – if the Knicks are up by five with one minute left, the Frenchman will be called upon to help hold the lead.

Both point guards have been working tirelessly this offseason to improve their shooting abilities and add another element to their games. Ntilikina averaged 5.9 points per game while Smith Jr. earned 14.5 over two seasons. Both are going into their third professional campaigns and will ultimately be competing for the starting job.

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While the Knicks didn’t manage to bring in players like Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, or D’Angelo Russell, they still created competition between two options with plenty of talent. One is obviously more capable when it comes to scoring and Smith Jr. working on his outside shot should add another component to his game.

There’s reason to believe he can really blossom in 2019 after learning the Knicks’ scheme last season and developing a rapport with head coach David Fizdale. Frank was reportedly on the trade block this summer and wasn’t expected to last until now, but he’s still here and ready to put the work in to find a role on the team.

“Yeah, definitely. I’m happy to be a Knick,” he said, according to Newsday. “I still take as much as I can get from every situation that I can. I’m in their jersey. I’m happy to be a Knick. I’m happy to be here. I’ll work very hard to make this situation successful.”

Add in former Pelicans point guard Elfrid Payton to the mix and we have a very interesting position battle brewing at one of the weakest spots for the Knicks.

How the New York Knicks can convince Kevin Durant to join ranks

New York Knicks, Kevin Durant

There’s a simple fact to Kevin Durant’s impending decision on where he will take his exponential talents for the next five years — the team he joins must be ready to win. The New York Knicks, however, might not be in that position next season, but it won’t matter.

Signing Durant comes with a caveat – he will likely miss all of the 2019 season due to a torn Achilles that he had surgically repaired earlier in June. This gives the Knicks a better chance at signing him, and they can utilize his experience in the meantime to mentor the younger players.

The New York Knicks can still extract value from Kevin Durant even if he’s not playing:

RJ Barrett would benefit significantly from Durant as a mentor. The issue will be this — if the Knicks do manage to convince Durant to sign with them, they will need to bring in another high-profile player to help him succeed once he returns. Persuading another max-contract player to sign and essentially forfeit a season of contention to wait for Durant’s return could be problematic.

They must insist that the current team has the talent to compete and bringing in a solid tier-two player like point guard D’Angelo Russell would be transformative. It’s seeming unlikely that both Durant and Kawhi Leonard both sign with the Knicks — reports have stated that Leonard is only willing to give the Knicks a phone-calls chance at signing him. He’s more keen on staying in California.

The Knicks need to approach Durant carefully, basing their negotiation around youth and the potential they have. Players like Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, Barrett, Damyean Dotson, Dennis Smith Jr., all have the flash and potential to be the next wave of greats in the league. If Durant wants to complete his legacy, leading a young team to the playoffs is certainly the way to do it.

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In Leonard’s case:

It doesn’t seem as if joining an already competitive team is a driving force in his decisions, given his recent Finals victory with the Toronto Raptors. Widely thought of as the best player in the league at the current moment, joining a youthful Knicks team would solidify his desire to lead a team of his own and help bring the best out of young talent.

It will be interesting to see how he goes about free agency, but if Durant is convinced to come to New York, it will certainly be a catalyst in bringing others as well.

New York Knicks should pursue Julius Randle hard in free agency

New York Knicks, Julius Randle

While some New York Knicks Twitter managers might be opposed to bringing on New Orleans Pelicans’ center/power forward Julius Randle as he might steal playing time from Mitchell Robinson, a player of his quality can’t be ignored.

Reports of there being a mutual interest between Randle and the Knicks have sparked optimism for a potential deal. The 24-year-old opted out of his contract with the Pelicans after the trading of Anthony Davis and will hit the open market this offseason, a boost to the number of players available for the Knicks.

From Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated:

Other free agents on the Knicks’ radar include their own free-agent center DeAndre Jordan, Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins and twins Markieff and Marcus Morris. New Orleans Pelicans forward Julius Randle and the Knicks also have mutual interest, according to sources.

“We are going to have the opportunity to meet with the guys we want to meet with,” [Knicks president Steve] Mills said without offering details or confirming names.

Randle, who set career highs of 21.4 points per game and 30.6 minutes per in 2018, would bring a steady and consistent play-style and production to New York. Once the dealing begins on June 30, the Knicks would be smart to snatch him up to ensure he doesn’t take his talents elsewhere.

Theoretically speaking, the Knicks could sign Randle, point guard D’Angelo Russell, and Kevin Durant with the $73 million in open cap they have available.

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Randle and Russell won’t earn max-contracts at this point in their career, but two extremely productive and efficient players helping develop the youth on the team and prepare for Durant’s return would be ideal. A starting team consisting of Randle. Russell, Durant, Barrett, and Robinson would be deadly.

The Knicks could stick to their own guns:

Reports have also stated that the Knicks are interested in bringing back DeAndre Jordan, a player who’s good friends with Durant and could end up wherever he goes. Jordan, who averaged 11 points last season, hold value for a much cheaper price. Personally, I feel as though signing Randle would be in the best interest of the team moving forward and would help them in their quest to find success.

 

 

New York Knicks preparing for disappointing offseason at hands of the Nets

As the rumor mill spirals on, the New York Knicks will have to weed out the fake from the truth. Kevin Durant has publically stated his intentions to play with Kyrie Irving, and the star point guard is close to taking his talents to Brooklyn. This would indicate Durant’s following, but nothing is set in stone, the favorited teams will continue to take turns at the helm.

The Knicks have a solid youthful team looking to take a jump and sign a few big names in free agency. Madison Square Garden is a place most players dream of playing, but the inadequacies of the Knicks have turned superstars away from the spotlight in the past.

However, the organization seems to be going in a different direction, something that could be attractive at this point in time. The problem is, the Brooklyn Nets are also revolutionizing their mentality towards winning and success. The truth is, they might be the more attractive team coming off a playoff caliber season.

Are the New York Knicks in a position to win now?

The Knicks, who won just 17 games last season, are still at least a year away from being playoff contenders, a major turnoff for any big name free agents looking to make a change. Players like Durant want to compete immediately and not waste time on the shelf during their best years.

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Owner James Dolan predicted “a very successful offseason when it comes to free agents,” but the injury to Durant have complicated things. In addition, the market of superstars seems to be dwindling in interest towards the Knicks, which could indicate a secondary market shopping spree.

Players like D’Angelo Russell and Willie Cauley-Stein could be attractive options for a team building around their youth players and prospects. The team simply isn’t experienced enough to dominate and compete at a high level just yet, which is the hurdle they will have to face in free agency.

What is the New York Knicks pitch to Kawhi Leonard in free agency?

Can the New York Knicks convince Kawhi Leonard to come to New York?

The free agent market in the NBA is one of pure unpredictability. The New York Knicks will see players expected to join their ranks take their talents elsewhere and others agree to compete in the Mecca. My initial thoughts are – Kevin Durant won’t wind up being with the Knicks, but that won’t stop them from pursuing Toronto Raptors star, Kawhi Leonard.

As much as Leonard enjoys winning, he seems to enjoy the challenge just as much. Location doesn’t mean as much as holding the trophy at the end of the NBA finals, yet reports have stated he’s interested in going to Los Angeles.

The Knicks will start their pursuit with a disadvantage, but their game-plan should be to convince him that he can solidify his name at the top by leading a team of youth and becoming a mentor as well as a winner.

The New York Knicks need to emphasize their direction and the challenge:

Having youngsters like RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, and Damyeon Dotson to work with, Leonard might be intrigued by the leadership role and true challenge of New York. In addition, the Knicks have two max-contract slots to fill, which would allow them to pair Kawhi with another talented option.

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Think — Kawhi and D’Angelo Russell. Two elite talents that can work well together. Given Kyrie Irving ends up in Brooklyn, the Knicks will need to find talent at the point guard position, which is where Russell enters the picture.

Coming off an All-Star performance in 2018, the free agent will be looking to earn a pretty penny, and the reality is, the Knicks, residing up the block and a quick ride on the 4 train, are a good option. The point guard has already stated he wants to stay in the Big Apple, which gives the Knicks an advantage.

It will be interesting to see how they approach free agency and if Leonard is actually a possibility. It’s expected they will earn a meeting with him, but convincing him to lead a team of youth will be the difficult part.

New York Knicks: D’Angelo Russell looking more like a reality

New York Knicks, D'Angelo Russell

With Kyrie Irving reportedly taking his talents to the Brooklyn Nets, the New York Knicks are in a good position to pursue D’Angelo Russell for their starting point guard position.

Irving, who was unhappy in Boston, will make his return to New York with the Nets being the favored team. The atmosphere and direction they’re headed seem to be more in-line with Kyrie’s goals. That will certainly influence the decision of superstar Kevin Durant and other free agents looking to make a move to the Big Apple.

Russell has already stated he wants to stay in New York, which is a good sign for the Knicks since it would be a short drive up to Madison Square Garden.

SNY’s Ian Begley stated:

“If Irving ends up signing in Brooklyn, it may have an interesting ripple effect on the roster, particularly D’Angelo Russell.”

“Russell, a restricted free agent, will likely draw significant interest on the open market. The 23-year-old is coming off of an All-Star season in which he helped lead Brooklyn to the playoffs. Members of the Pacers organization are high on Russell” [SNY]

After drafting RJ Barrett with the 3rd overall pick on Thursday night, it leaves the point guard position thin. They do have Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina at the spot, but the reality is neither will likely be franchise caliber players. Smith Jr. is a solid offensive performer but needs to work on his defense.

Russell presents an elite option that likely wouldn’t require a max-contract to sign. That allows the Knicks to bring in a superstar and more, which would help the team ‘establish a sense of veteranship and stability. Additionally, having quality depth is always a positive thing.

However, they should still be focused on providing their young players with ample playing time to aid their development. I do think, though, that Russell would be a great addition for the Knicks.