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2019-20 Knicks Season Preview: Taj Gibson

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He’s a New York native, you know.

NBA: Preseason-New York Knicks at Washington Wizards Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

You ever kick the tires on this franchise? There are so many former Knicks that seem like they belong in the manifold. They even have a ham-handed slogan about it: Once A Knick, Always A Knick. Here are your keys to the franchise, Cezary Trybański, you’re doing great!

There were undoubtedly some players that deserved their stretch of the road. Herb Williams stood as the hood ornament of many a win through the 90’s. One hazy spring, for a certain 54-win team, Rasheed Wallace came out of retirement and donned the orange and blue. In his first appearance, a chant broke out and he was beckoned to the arena floor by a bloodthirsty crowd in a triumphant rout of Miami. Sometimes the Garden is magical.

That was a very good year. Most of the time, you open the hood to a smell of scorched engine oil; there have been two decades of false fan favorites. Too many decades of hopeless wonders.

The Knicks have always bolstered their roster with these “consummate professional” types that will help a rebuilding team through some tough times. Most of these guys don’t pass muster. Your Malik Roses and Jared Jeffrieses, Lance Thomas of course. As long an unkept promise in Knicks history as any. The guy who doesn’t do anything especially well, and as a result is labeled a defensive specialist or a lunch pail pal. Enter Taj Gibson. The Lance Thomas we’ve always been promised and never truly received. Taj has as good a chance as any to truly help stem this polluted tide.

I think it’s safe to assume Taj will take over Lance Thomas’ almost 20 minutes per game. I’d also venture to guess that he’ll double the production in every facet. Gibson should get minutes at the five, where he’ll allow the team to run a little smaller and quicker. I know they say the Knicks signed only power forwards this off season. Well, maybe yea, but they didn’t sign any centers. So is it en vogue to play small or not?

Through the first few preseason games, 34-year-old Taj has shown a little extended range on his normally trusty jumper. He turns into a redwood when he sets screens. A stark contrast to Mitchell Robinson’s weeping willow. He even — get this — swings the ball, rather than jabbing at defenders who aren’t terribly worried about him taking a contested running pull-up 17-footer (stop me if that reminds you of anyone on the team). Hilarious dopes who put the media in comedian will trash the Knicks for maintaining their power forward-from-Brooklyn quotient. A number of delusional fans will miss the “professionalism” of Lance, but Gibson will bring the elder statesman pedigree with the added bonus of being a productive teammate.

Not all that long ago, he was giving the Knicks the business. Now he’ll be doing business for them.

Of course, it might still be a snake pit of a season. What with the coaching being a tight rope walk, and after seeing David Fizdale’s first season as Knicks head coach — a horrific pratfall from a slack wire, some 17 games high. The grounding element for any electric performance will be the sage veteran. Quarterbacking the defense and being a powerful pivot point for the offense.

Already we’ve seen the spacing and ball movement really be in lockstep when Gibson shares the floor with the younger guns like Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina. You’ll need the dynamism and showmanship to dance across the wire. That’s where Julius Randle comes into play. Yet, on a windy day you’ll need to rely on your trusty old staff as a counter balance, and well, Herb Williams ain’t walking through that door.