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13 NEW YORK KNICKS

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A MODEST PROPOSAL...

DON'T DO ANYTHING THE KNICKS WOULD NORMALLY DO

The Knicks enter the season with a chance to be one of the worst clubs in the NBA, but in a hopeful way. Frank Ntilikina and rookie Kevin Knox are legitimate backcourt prospects who could use a year of low-stakes seasoning. Kristaps Porzingis is out indefinitely after knee surgery, but if he makes a full recovery, this year could end up serving as something of a launching pad to Knicks success.

Of course, this is the exact point at which the franchise usually does something silly, like trading young talent for a soon-to-be free agent when they have cap space, or letting someone walk only so they can sign him to a massive contract a couple of years later.

In addition to its young talent, New York has a smart coach in David Fizdale. The front office finally seems willing to hold on to its assets as opposed to turning into a kid at the frozen yogurt topping bar. If the Knicks bring Porzingis along cautiously, they can enter next summer with cap space, a good pick, an appealing market and a solid core to attract superstars.

Brighter days are on the horizon, but this season is going to be rough. Owner James Dolan needs to have the patience to allow his front office to stay the course. For once, that seems to be part of an actual plan.

STARTING 5

COACH DAVID FIZDALE

2017--18 RECORD: 29--53

PREDICTION: Miss playoffs

PG TREY BURKE

4.7

APG

SG COURTNEY LEE

40.6

3FG%

SF TIM HARDAWAY JR.

17.5

PPG

C ENES KANTER

11.0

RPG

48

GP

PF KRISTAPS PORZINGIS (52 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])

When Porzingis tore his ACL on Feb. 6, the Knicks were 23--32. They won six more games all year. In all, New York was 7--27 without Porzingis.

BENCH

PF MARIO HEZONJA [NEW ACQUISITION]

PG EMMANUEL MUDIAY

SF KEVIN KNOX [ROOKIE]

(*) NEW ACQUISITION

(#) SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING

(R) ROOKIE

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP NEW YORK

THEIR SEASON needs to be about establishing an identity and a culture. Can everyone get on the same page? It feels like [president] Steve Mills, [GM] Scott Perry and [coach] David Fizdale are presenting a uniform front.... Fizdale's identity has always been toughness. KRISTAPS PORZINGIS has shown to be tough, but he'll be out the first few months of the season. Will they be tough without him? ... It starts with KEVIN KNOX. Everyone was buzzing about his summer league. He had way more freedom, was a way better shooter than in college. At Kentucky he looked like a stretch four; in Vegas he looked like a three. The expectations are unreal now, and he's not a tough mother.... FRANK NTILIKINA is certainly not a bust, but he's not where you want him to be. They took him over Dennis Smith and Donovan Mitchell. Will he play off-the-ball moving forward, or do you try and develop him into a point guard? ... TIM HARDAWAY—he's a microwave. He comes in and fills it up. He can create, he's quick, athletic and skilled. He does it at a high level and just looks smooth.... TREY BURKE was a redemption story. He flamed out in Utah and to his credit was willing to go back to the G League when a lot of guys might have just gone overseas. But he stuck with it and got rewarded. He's a score-first guard but did a nice job creating for others as well. I'm really curious to see him this year because in late-season games you see some strange things. The true test is going to come, and he'll have a major role for them.