The P&T staff will preview the 2014-2015 with a series of questions. We made a list of 2,015 Qs (actually 2,000,015 before we narrowed it down) and will open them up for discussion one by one until the season starts.
The first and most important question about the Westchester Knicks is whether you're going to play for them. The W-Knicks are holding open tryouts a month from now and I think you should go. Yes, you. Compete if you can, vomit all over the floor and get frogmarched out of the gym sobbing if you must, just go. Do it for P&T.
Besides the home of P&T's first in-house professional athlete, what will the Westchester Knicks be? We know Thanasis Antetokounmpo will find his way there. D-League Digest reports there will be an expansion draft in the near future to make a chunk of every other D-League team available for Westchester's pickin'. There's the foundation of the roster. And we know Allan Houston is the GM.
Beyond that, we can't tell yet how the Knicks will use their suburban second home. They-- via Houston-- get to hire a fresh coaching staff, and I suspect they'll pick old Phil Jackson associates and/or Triangle-minded newcomers to mirror the big Knicks' style. This way, Westchester can not only prepare players who might have a chance to make the leap, but serve as a testing ground for sets and lineup types.
Will the Knicks cycle players through Westchester? Through a couple years of single-affiliation with the Erie BayHawks, New York hardly turned to the D-League when their roster became thin because of injury. And, except for brief or nominal assignments, the Knicks only occasionally sent unused players to Erie. Jerome Jordan and the legend Chris Smith are the only two genuine exceptions who come to mind. If a guy like Cleanthony Early or Shane Larkin can't carve out a rotation spot immediately, would the Knicks rather he practice with the best and watch games from the bench or get into a more active rhythm at the D-League level? If the Knicks find themselves in need of a warm body, will they turn first to Westchester, or to the waiver wire?
The beauty of having an affiliate in your backyard is that transactions in either direction needn't be much of a commitment, physically. Team's got a few days off? All it takes is a bus ride for Cleanthony or Shane to get some reps. If you bring a guy up for a few consecutive ten-days, he doesn't have to leave his home.
The other nice part-- and something I'm curious to see-- is the ease of cross-promotion. I don't know how big a draw the W-Knicks will be, but I hope to get over there for some games. And while I've seen nothing to suggest they'll do this, I don't see anything stopping MSG from televising one Westchester game a week or showing W-Knicks highlights in the studio shows or something like that.
It's strange to me that every NBA team doesn't have its own D-League franchise yet. I'm glad the Knicks have been relatively ahead of that wave, but they can do better. Now that they've founded a new affiliate they can build in their own image, I hope they'll establish as much of a farm system as the current rules allow, keep in close touch, and allow ideas and assets to flow freely between the clubs. Why not?