By Lenn Robbins
It comes with an understandably fair bit of trepidation for any Knicks fan embrace what just occurred on February 6, 2020. There have been so many horrific trades and free agents busts that just the thought of the Knicks making a deal is enough to trigger deep breathing exercises.
But this time the president-less Knicks made what seems to be a slam dunk transaction, sending veteran forward Marcus Morris to the Clippers in exchange for former St. John’s star and Queens native Moe Harkless, a 2020 first round pick and a 2nd-round pick.
The happiest man might be Leon Rose who reportedly will be hired as franchise’s next prez. He gets another first-round and second-round pick and a talented 26-year-old forward with upside.
The Knicks traded away a very solid player and person in Morris, who is 30 and a free agent after the season. But a first round pick and a younger forward that could start immediately at the 3 is a win-win. Morris goes to a playoff-bound team.
Good for him. Good for New York.
The Knicks now have two 1st-round picks in 2020 and two second-round picks, courtesy of the Willie Hernangomez trade. The Knicks have two first round picks in 2021, courtesy of the Kristaps Porzingis trade.
After his rookie season, we railed that The Unicorn was not a foundation player to build a champion around. Every month that belief gets reinforced. He continues to be physically fragile, not necessarily his fault, and is one of the most narcissistic players to come out of Europe, which is his fault.
The Knicks also have another 2nd-round pick in 2021 as part of Hernangomez deal. They’ll have two first-rounds picks in 2023, when the second pick from Dallas for KP arrives.
One of the only smart, no less sane thoughts to come out of The Garden of late regarding the Knicks is a commitment to hoard No.1 picks. This becomes even more prescient with the expected decreases in the salary cap and luxury-tax threshold.
Add in these assets with Rose and here’s where it gets a little scary: A hoard of draft picks combined with an elite agent. Do we dare get excited? Yes!
Look at what former agents turned executives Bob Myers did in Golden State and Rob Pelinka has done with the Lakers. This doesn’t mean Rose is a slam dunk. Myers learned the ropes from Larry Riley and Pelinka sat at the knee of Magic Johnson. That’s like getting tutored by Newton in physics.
Rose, however, will have GM Steve Perry to bounce ideas. Since Rose has yet to be officially hired and Steve Mills thankfully is no longer at the controls, we can credit today’s trade to Perry.
There’s another reason to feel good about this day and that is Rose. He might be able to get a table at Rao’s these days but not because his father handed him a fortune and said, ‘Go Forth and Double the Family Fortune.’
He’s a South Jersey guy who got degrees at Dickinson College, a cool liberal arts school, and at Temple law, in the heart of blue collar Philly. His first job was as an assistant prosecutor in Camden County, which has never been dubbed the vacation capital of the New Jersey. His first clients were Philly guys such as Lionel Simmons and Rick Brunson.
The only damper on the day was owner James Dolan’s decision to issue the following statement:
“We are actively looking for a new President of the New York Knicks and hope to conclude the search as quickly as possible,” he said. “I am not selling, but I am determined to find the right leader for the Knicks who will ensure the long-term success of the team, just as we did with the hiring of Rangers President John Davidson.”
If Dolan won’t sell, maybe he won’t meddle. In that case, maybe the record will show that February 6, 2020 was the best day Knicks fans had in a long time.