Why The Knicks Should Capitalize On The Nets' Mistake

Lauren Russell

Last summer, many believed the New York Knicks would land two superstar free agents in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Of course, New York did end up welcoming the two all-stars to the city, just not in Manhattan, but across the East River in Brooklyn.

There is no doubt, Irving and Durant signing in the same city had to make missing out on the two star free agents sting even more for the Knicks. The Nets franchise was doing something right, to land two of basketball's best. It took a few years of rebuilding, but Brooklyn became that max-free agent destination. 

The work of coach Kenny Atkinson was a big reason the Brooklyn Nets' rebuild was successful. The Nets and Atkinson parted ways earlier this year. When I received the notification with the news on my phone, I thought it was a huge opportunity for the Knicks to hire a head coach who could be there for the long run.

Ian Begley of SNY reported earlier this month that there is "legitimate support within Knicks organization" for Atkinson to be hired as head coach. 

Kenny Atkinson's background in player development makes him an excellent choice for the Knicks head coaching position. The Knicks core is young, very young. RJ Barrett is 20, Kevin Knox is 20, Frank Ntilikina is 21, Mitchell Robinson is 22, and of course whoever New York drafts this year will more than likely be 18 or 19. If the New York Knicks are going to be successful this young core is going need to preform, and preferably sooner than later. 

All these young players have shown potential and flashes, but there is still room for improvement. That's where Atkinson comes in, I believe he can get the most out of these young players and help them become the best players they can be.  

Atkinson started his tenure as Nets head coach in 2016. In 2017 the Lakers traded D'Angelo Russell to the Nets presumably to make room for their new point guard Lonzo Ball who they drafted soon after. His first season with the Nets his numbers were similar to those in his sophomore season with the Lakers. But, his second season with the Nets is when his game took another step. He averaged 21 points and 7 assists per game. That season, at 22 years old, he was named an NBA all-star. 

Recently, we have heard the word "culture" repeatedly talked about in connection with the Knicks franchise. The Knicks want to establish a winning culture even, they don't want to be known as the team that has to tank every year (I mean which team would?) A "winning culture" doesn't necessarily mean being a top seed, for the Knicks it means trying to win day in and day out no matter the circumstances. 

The Nets established that culture during their rebuild. They made the playoffs last season with players that were passed up by many teams earlier in their careers, Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, D'Angelo Russell, and Joe Harris.

The Knicks/ young core would flourish under Atkinson's leadership. The Knicks may have lost out on two all-star free agents to Brooklyn, but the Nets' ex-head coach might be able to develop the Knick's young players into future all-stars.