Everything is falling into place for the New York Knicks.
They traded away the best and only shot at hope on their roster by dealing Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks in January.
And now they’ve set a new mark for team futility.
Knicks set new losing low
With their 107-104 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, the Knicks have now lost 17 straight games. It’s the worst losing streak in franchise history for a team that’s done its fair share of losing.
That the loss came against the next-worst team in the Eastern Conference is fitting. It drops them to 10-46, good for the worst record in the NBA.
It’s all, of course, part of the master plan. The Knicks aren’t pretending that a roster led by DeAndre Jordan, Dennis Smith Jr. and Kevin Knox is one that provides any sense of optimism.
It’s about the the cap space
The deal to send Porzingis away wasn’t about the return of Smith and Jordan from Dallas. It was about cap space. And the Knicks now project to have up to $71 million of space in the upcoming offseason, which will provide one of the game’s great free agent bonanzas.
Free agent dreams in New York
With Kyrie Irving hedging on his promise to stay in Boston and Kevin Durant lambasting reporters for doing their job when he goes on radio silence after the Porzingis trade, it becomes pretty clear what the Knicks’ goal is.
They’ll have enough space to sign a pair of max free agents. If only they can attract them.
And that’s where this 17-game losing streak comes into play. The Knicks have mastered the art of tanking, an achievement the New Orleans Pelicans are surely envious of as they continue to trot out Anthony Davis night after night.
Lottery fantasies of Zion
If their tanking goes right and the lottery balls fall into place, they’ll have a shot at taking Duke superstar Zion Williamson in the upcoming NBA draft.
The draft will take place on June 20. If Williamson’s on their roster when free agency kicks off on July 1, he’ll provide a leg up on landing priority free agents.
So all this losing and expelling of talent oddly enough does provide some sense of hope about the future of basketball in New York.
So many what-ifs
But it does so with great risk. None of these speculated hopes of the Knicks are anywhere close to guarantees. Even if Durant has his sights on New York now, a lot can happen between now and another potential Warriors championship.
The same can be said for Irving. Even as he wavers in Boston, there are a lot of stops between now and potentially landing in New York.
And tanking for Zion may come with the greatest risk of all. Even if they land the league’s worst record, there’s a better chance than not that they don’t secure the No. 1 pick in the draft.
So while it’s exciting for Knicks fans to speculate on what might be this offseason, it’s not a plan built on stability. It’s built on long shots and dreams.
It’s a foundation that sums up the Knicks better than anything else this season.
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