Leon Rose was hired as president of the New York Knicks on March 2nd, 2020. In that time he has brought in ten of the top thirteen players on the Knicks roster. He also hired Tom Thibodeau as his head coach.
Looking at the players he has brought into the organization since being hired, Jalen Brunson is unquestionably the best player. Other players acquired in his tenure include Quentin Grimes, Obi Toppin, Evan Fournier, Immanuel Quickley, Cam Reddish, Jalen Rose, Isaiah Hartenstein, Miles McBride and Jericho Sims. After Brunson the talent has been average. Evan Fournier, who was signed as a free agent on a hefty contract last year can be looked on as a mistake. The rest of the players have some potential but are not close to realizing it.
Obi Toppin is the only player from that group drafted in the top ten. Reddish and Rose were acquired by trades and Hartenstein was signed this summer as a free agent., McBride, Grimes , Quickley and Sims were drafted in the late first round or the second round.
R J Barrett and Mitchell Robinson were drafted by a previous management team and Julius Randle was signed as a free agent by that same team. It can argued that Randle and Barrett are the second and third best players on the team. Though Rose has cleaned up his roster with new names their success has been limited.
The one that got away!
What complicates the matter is Rose could have dealt for Donovan Mitchell this summer. Rose and his management team thought they were bidding against themselves and refused to up their offer. This allowed Cleveland to come in and steal him. Mitchell has been outstanding thus far this season and has propelled the Cavs to a great start on the season. Think about what he could have done with the Knicks.
As any NBA fan knows it’s stars that make a team successful. The Knicks big three of Brunson, Barrett and Randle though good players don’t measure up to the league’s top trios. The Knicks erred on the chance to get a star when they whiffed on Mitchell.
Ultimately the pressure will be on Tom Thibodeau to get this average team to over achieve. Thibs was hired by Rose and in his first year the Knicks did just that overachieving to finish fourth in the Eastern Conference. They exhibited a defensive presence that made the opposing team earn every point they got. The type of team nobody wants to play against. Last year the Knicks fell back and didn’t make the play in game. This year the Knicks have started slowly and don’t appear to be very good defensively.
If things continue going the way they are going now Thibs will be the one to take the fall. Coaches are usually the first to go in these situations and it usually buys more time for upper management. The interesting thing is Thibs is regarded as one of the better coaches in the league and the Knicks would be hard pressed to find a better coach.
It would be wise for ownership to look at the last few years and evaluate who has helped the organization the most and act accordingly.