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Believe it: The Knicks are on a good path

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Strange but true.

NBA: Denver Nuggets-Media Day Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

This trade deadline the Knicks didn’t undergo an extreme makeover (roster edition) like Cleveland but they pushed the ball out in front of themselves and will try to catch up to it on the break. It’s an important step for a team trying to break free from basically two decades of tumult. Over that stretch some of the tears were joyous and they still glimmer. This year started out in a wonderful winter land but a wintry mix turned to the freezing rain that burned our eyes. We caught a good glimpse of Kristaps Porzingis two-way mega star and we’ll see him again around this time next season.

Away from the broken hearts and cries of Knicks fans, New York elected to part ways with Willy Hernangomez and Doug McDermott as they welcomed in Emmanuel Mudiay. Neither of these short-lived Knicks set themselves up as the trusty companions a gun-slinging Kristaps Cowboy can lean on when the going gets tough. They were merely saloon doors meant to burst open and wobble shut in the background when it’s time to grab the NBA by it’s collar.

Scott Perry has done well by the Knicks so far, making smart short-play moves that help shed light on a brighter future. In trades prior to his time at the wheel New York had jettisoned their 2020 and 2021 second round draft picks, so Perry replenished them by dealing the 23-year old Hernangomez. He may be great friends with Kristaps and Slovenian sensation Luka Dončić but young Guillermo’s skills are replicable and the Knicks may never want to pay him when the time comes. He wanted out after getting buried in a chunky big man rotation. Perhaps if you love something you should set it free.

Doug McDermott never came in and properly Steve Novak’d the opposition. A Novakian shooter off the bench is ultimately who a contending team will need McDermott to be and he may reach that peak. To be fair, at 25, Doug is probably a little more well rounded than Novak ever came to be. Regardless of that his brand of hot shooting never unfurled into the complete mania that had opponents rage quitting in the second quarter. This coming off-season also represents a large cap hold for McDermott which the Knicks would likely have to renounce. He’s just a guy that the team is not ready to commit long term money to. I know it stings a little, here’s a little something for the pain...

Enter 22-year old Emmanuel Mudiay a 6’5” point guard with a 7’ wingspan. He’ll help push the tempo without Jeff Hornacek imploring him, he’ll look for the roll man if the man rolls, he’ll rebound his position and he’ll do that for two more years on a rookie deal.

That lines him up directly with Kristaps. It also may appear to line him up against Frank Ntilikina but these two should co-exist and push one another to higher heights. They represent a gigantic size advantage in the backcourt if they play together. Their particular skill sets shouldn’t interfere with one another’s. If they need to play staggered minutes over the next two seasons, they should at least be able to establish themselves as a solid one-two point guard punch. I’m still riding with Ntilikina but there’s no harm in deferring your payments here.

The Knicks are not ready to jump into the fiery ring of playoff basketball. They weren’t ready before the Kristaps injury and they certainly can’t without Kristaps. They should, however mercifully, be ready to jump into the smoldering ring of relinquishing Jarret Jack’s charred grip on this young team’s reins. Let the kids ride out.

In due time...