Debunking NBA Myths: New York Knicks Are a Free Agent Destination

02/05/2022

I've grown up in my entire NBA fanhood with people telling me the New York Knicks are one of the most attractive free-agent destinations on the market. That much like the Lakers, the Knicks are only ever one free agency period away from signing the right pieces and morphing into a championship contender. Then it hit me recently, why exactly do people feel as if New York is a glamorous free agent destination? They've essentially never signed a marquee free agent.

NBA myths can be dangerous and its time someone does something about it. With this series, we attack and debunk the most outrageous NBA myths. We've talked about Lonzo Ball, Joel Embiid and Dwight Howard. We've talked about the league's misguided obsession with three pointers. And today, we debunk the myth that the New York Knicks are a free agent destination.

Every team can sign a free agent, but the status of free agent destinations should be exclusive to those who can consistently get the big fish, not just any free agent, but the best in the market. To quantify this, I designated a marquee free agent as a player who made the All-NBA team in the season leading to the summer of their free agency. I could have gone with All-Star nominations, but anyone can get an All-Star nod, especially when it was just a fan vote, whereas All-NBA is strictly the best of the best.

In the last ten seasons, here is the full list of teams that have signed a marquee free agent:

Miami Heat

Golden State Warriors

Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles Lakers

San Antonio Spurs

Brooklyn Nets

Cleveland Cavaliers

Notice how there's a team missing? You have the Nets, who are supposed to be the little brother, signing the kind of free agents the Knicks can't, yet you want me to believe they're a free agent destination?

Bro, at this point, even the Clippers are a more attractive free-agent destination than the Knicks. The Heat makes sense. It's Miami, Florida, and a culture of winning. Same with the Lakers, Los Angeles + Winning culture. Then you have the Spurs and the Warriors, who have won so much they've morphed themselves into attractive free-agent destinations.

But yet, every year when free agency comes around and none of the stars sign for the Knicks, we sit there wondering what happened.

And if you're thinking, well that's just last ten years, what about before that? The Knicks did sign Amar'e Stoudemire in the summer of 2010 after he made second-team All-NBA with the Phoenix Suns. But when you apply the context that the Knicks were gunning for either Wade or LeBron that summer, the Stoudemire signing looks a lot different.

And what's worse is, if you remove that Stoudemire signing, since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976, the Knicks have never signed a marquee free agent. Meanwhile, you can add the Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic, and Philadelphia 76ers to the list of teams who have signed a marquee free agent.

And while the James Dolan argument is often used because he's a disliked owner, that alone can't explain the ineptitude of the Knicks when it comes to free agency. He took over the team in 1999. The Knicks were around long before that and still not signing marquee free agents.

The reality is there are only about six free-agent destinations in the NBA, and history tells us the New York Knicks are not one of them. New York City is not the wonderland analysts make it out to be, and the franchise has not won anywhere near enough to receive any consideration.

 You'll have to do a lot better than one marquee free agent signing in 45 years to earn the status of free-agent destination.


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