What to like and not like about the Knicks in 2016-17
1. There are some health concerns.
They’re real with the age and injury history of many of their players. Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have missed 316 games over the past five seasons. Noah was limited with hamstring and ankle injuries in the preseason. Brandon Jennings is returning from a ruptured Achilles. Carmelo Anthony is 32 and played in the Olympics over the summer so the Knicks hope he doesn’t wear down.
2. This was not a Rose-y situation.
The Rose pickup started the offseason facelift and everyone in the organization hopes he can return to an All-Star level. But Rose missed out on valuable time with his new team, new coach and learning a new offense because of his civil sexual assault trial in Los Angeles. Rose will have to learn on the fly and may need time to return to basketball shape.
3. Phil’s future — will he be back?
Phil Jackson has an out clause in his contract after this season that he had included in case of a lockout this summer. That seems less likely now but that doesn’t mean Jackson won’t bolt and return to Los Angeles, especially if the Knicks are a playoff team. The Zen Master could say he left them in better shape than he found them.
Reasons to like the Knicks
Carmelo Anthony has help, as the Knicks’ top six or seven players are solid. Kristaps Porzingis is stronger and should be improved in Year 2, especially with better talent around him. Noah and Rose are ultra-competitive, no-nonsense players who experienced individual and team success in Chicago and want to find both again. Rose and Jennings are talented guards in the last years of their contracts so they’re going to want to get paid when salaries skyrocket next summer.
Reasons to be concerned
Durability is a well-documented concern. There also could be chemistry issues early with so many new faces and Rose missing nine practices, five preseason games and four shootarounds for his trial. The Knicks’ starting five didn’t play a single minute together. Rose could be rusty and not fully comfortable with a new offense. The Knicks’ bench isn’t deep; they’ll have to rely on rookies or unproven veterans, which could be a problem if their main players have injuries.
A player who could surprise: Willy Hernangomez
The Big man looks more polished than your average rookie, likely because he played with and against men in a top Spanish league, where he was teammates with Porzingis. Hernangomez’s passing and smoothness stood out in the preseason. He’ll be in the rotation and with Noah’s health history Hernangomez could have a big role.