Imagine my delight when, on Wednesday morning, I woke up and discovered two things on Google. The first, that the Knicks were finally turning the page from the dreary Phil Jackson era — and the second, that Sam Hinkie’s noncompete clause expires this summer.
The architect of the much ballyhooed “Process” in Philadelphia made an epic farewell in true nerd fashion, as Hinkie drafted a 13-page letter that leaked to fans outlining what his vision was for an NBA franchise and how the Sixers would eventually claw their way out of the mud — sputtered about from a four-year tank job the likes of which has never been seen before in pro sports.
He has since spent his time in Northern California, partaking mostly in intellectual exercises as he contemplates his next move.
His next move should be to Manhattan.
The Knicks offer, more or less, the same kind of blank slate the Sixers did back in 2013, with a few pieces that can be shipped away for assets here and there but mostly a sea of mediocrity and a long wait before the mighty Warriors are dissassembled.
New York can’t compete next year. They won’t compete in 2018, 2019 or 2020. No amount of manuvering, jockying for superstars or faith in Kristaps Porzingis and 2017 eighth overall pick Frank Ntilikina will achieve an NBA championship for the long tortured fans of the Knicks, so why not blow it up?
But, blow it up right. Blow it up Hinkie style. Knicks fans have long suffered. They can handle a little more pain.
Hinkie traded away the 2014 Rookie of the Year after a historic campaign in Philly. He got two first round draft picks from the Kings for Arturas Gudaitis and Luka Mitrovic. He drafted Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and literally laid the groundwork for the drafting of Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz. He opened cap space and has the Sixers in one of the most enviable positions of all the NBA — save for the rare four or five teams poised to unsuccessfully make a run at Golden State next season.
James Dolan, the Knicks owner who appears to be the subject of more hatred every single day, would likely never go for Hinkie’s tanktastic strategy. He has too much money to be made by putting butts into seats at Madison Square Garden and getting eyeballs on the Knicks on TV. Adam Silver no doubt dreads the return of Hinkie to shred the NBA to bits once again, prompting discussions of overhauling the lottery or replacing it with alternative draft order rules.
Adrian Wojnarowski said Wednesday that Toronto’s Masai Ujiri is a favorite to replace Phil Jackson as New York’s president of basketball operations.
The evidence suggests a conventional approach for the Knicks is to come, and a radical Hinkie-like change is just a pipe dream. Perhaps the jury is still out on whether the Sixers’ historic strategy of rebuilding will yield success — Simmons and Fultz have yet to play a single game. But if Dolan wants to win and wants to really give Knicks fans something to be excited about, it’s tank or bust.