The New York Knicks haven’t won an NBA championship in nearly 50 years. They haven’t reached the Eastern Conference finals in 20 years despite a parade of supposed saviors in the years that followed. Isiah Thomas, Donnie Walsh and Phil Jackson all tried and failed to revitalize the Knicks under James Dolan.
Next on the list is former CAA agent Leon Rose. He was named president of basketball operations for the Knicks earlier this month, and the consensus on why is his lengthy Rolodex. Less than a year after being humiliated by the crosstown Brooklyn Nets in free agency, the Knicks hired a former agent that, at least in theory, should do a better job of recruiting players like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving than Steve Mills did. Having represented a number of former All-Stars, Rose has plenty of experience working with the league’s best.
One of his most famous clients hasn’t worked in the NBA for decades. That would be Kentucky coach John Calipari, who has at least some experience coaching in the New York market having led the New Jersey Nets for a brief stretch in the 1990s. While he is no longer employed by an NBA team, Calipari retains substantial influence in the league by churning out several high draft picks almost every year at Kentucky, and in a conference call with media on Tuesday, he explained that he not only believes Rose can turn the Knicks around, but will do so on a fairly quick timeline, via Adam Zagoria of Forbes.
“I believe he’s going to do a great job but it’s not going to be in the first month. it may take a year or two for everyone to say, this is the path we’ve been waiting for, this is it.”
At 21-45, The Knicks have the fourth-worst record in the East. While quick turnarounds do happen in the NBA, anticipating them has been a major flaw of the Knicks in recent years. When Walsh took over in 2008, the general understanding was that he was building towards a free agency coup in 2010. Jackson similarly accelerated his team’s timeline by bringing in veterans Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee after young star Kristaps Porzingis’ second season.
History has proven that patience will be a virtue for the Knicks, and as difficult as that will be to stomach, Rose himself preached it in his introductory statement to fans. The Knicks need to learn how to crawl before they can walk, much less run.
There are no shortcuts in rebuilding the Knicks’ image around the league. The goal, for now, should be rebuilding their reputation among players after two decades of chaos. Once that has been achieved, the front office can start dreaming bigger, but barring some sort of miracle, the Knicks don’t figure to be in contention within a year or two. They have a young roster that should be allowed to grow at its own pace.