One thing many fans agree on is that the NBA is in better shape when the New York Knicks are among the top of the totem pole, competing with the league’s best.
And after a surprisingly successful 2020-2021 campaign, some would say they’re well on their way.
New York finished the year 41-31, the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, and made the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-2013 season.
With a clear-cut All-Star in Julius Randle, a stud young wing in RJ Barrett, and a young core of Immanuel Quickley, Mitchell Robinson, and Obi Toppin, the Knicks have the early makings of a winning foundation.
The next step?
Landing that elusive star talent, something that’s been seemingly unattainable and firmly out of reach for this team for the better part of the last decade.
Fortunately, this offseason isn’t looking like one that will be short on options.
Among them, All-Star guard Damian Lillard could emerge as a trade candidate, after the Portland Trail Blazers flamed out in the postseason once again.
It’s unclear whether or not he’ll be made available, but should he find himself on the trade market, one Hall of Famer thinks there’s no better landing spot for him than under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden in New York.
Magic Johnson: ‘Superstars Are Gonna Want to Play Here Now’
On a recent episode of Keyshawn, JWill, and Zubin, Hall of Fame point guard and former NBA executive Magic Johnson made a bold claim on the New York Knicks chances at a star:
Superstars are gonna want to play here now…I think because they made the run and got to the playoffs, and the city is alive about the Knicks, I think now guys are looking and saying ‘Hey if I put myself in that lineup with Julius Randle and Quickley, Barrett, on and on and on, we could do something special.’
This all comes after the team turned the page and a new leaf this season, finishing 41-31, the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, and making the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Perhaps Johnson is right, and superstars are already discussing the Knicks with a higher reverence than year’s past. But it takes the first domino falling for championship teams to form.
As far as who may come to New York first, Johnson did have somewhat of a preference.
Johnson: Damian Lillard is ‘The Right Dude’
When asked who he thought was ‘the right star’ for the New York Knicks, Magic Johnson (via Keyshawn, JWill, and Zubin) was set on one name, and one name only:
If Dame was available, to me that’s the right dude. That’s the right guy. He’s got to make a decision here. Does he say ‘Do I stay for one more, and try to give it one more try? or ‘Do I say this summer I want to go?’
Lillard’s coming off of his fourth straight All-Star season, where he averaged 28.8 points, 7.5 assists, and 4.2 rebounds across 67 appearances for Portland.
That certainly sounds like the kind of player that could help this Knicks team take the next step.
But the question remains as to whether or not the Trail Blazers will entertain trade offers. Right now, their priority looks to be the head coaching hire, which will play directly into their offseason agenda.
And even then, if they were to open up the phones and take calls on their franchise player, do the New York Knicks have the assets to pull off a deal of this caliber?
Just one of a number of storylines to watch ahead of what’s expected to be a busy offseason in the NBA.