September 25, 2022

In the end, Leon Rose either lost his temper or never really wanted to throw his chips in the middle of the table to begin with. Maybe the Knicks president will clarify that the next time he’s recorded, which should be around 2031 or so.

Here is the bottom line:

There better be something else.

There better be another deal Rose has up his sleeve or in his imagination now that Dejounte Murray will co-star with Trae Young in the Hawks’ backcourt, than teaming up with – presumably – Jalen Brunson at the Madison Square Garden.

Because if it turns out Rose just wasn’t willing to match the deal the Hawks made — Danilo Gallinari and three first rounds, plus a pick trade — to acquire Murray from Spurs, that would be best because that there is something better out there. It is better that the coming agreement is better than the one that was on the table.

The Knicks could have improved the Hawks’ final offer. After all, the Knicks have 11 first-round picks spread over the next seven drafts, and right now every single one of them is just gathering dust. Even if it had taken four of them — along with, say, Evan Fournier and Immanuel Quickley — to bring Murray to New York and set up the Knicks with their most dynamic backcourt since Clyde and Pearl, Rose should have done it. TO DO.

Unless.

Knicks president Leon Rose (left) lost to the Hawks on a deal for Dejounte Murray (top right).  Rose is still looking to strike a deal with Jalen Brunson (bottom right).
Knicks president Leon Rose (left) lost to the Hawks on a deal for Dejounte Murray (top right). Rose is still looking to strike a deal with Jalen Brunson (bottom right).
Getty Images (3)

Unless there is something else.

Because there must be something else.

It’s good and good that Rose, by all accounts, has already done the heavy lifting in releasing Brunson from the Mavericks. Perhaps there will be an initial shock if the likely terms – four years, $110 million, possibly more – turn out to be true, but even at this rate Brunson would only be the 14th highest-paid point guard. of the league. The market is the market. Good players get paid. And the Knicks need as many good players as possible.

That’s why Murray was so attractive. He won’t be 26 until September and he’s just hit the start of his prime. He improved in every major category in each of his first five seasons as a pro, and in addition to averaging 21.9 points, 9.2 assists, 8.3 rebounds and 2 .0 interceptions, he is precisely the kind of defensive player who allows Tom Thibodeau to take the plunge. sleeping pills at night, close your eyes with a smile.

It hurts even more that it’s the Hawks, the tamers of the 2020-21 Knicks ride, the other lower-middle-class residents of the Eastern Conference, and now a few pegs higher than that. The Knicks are hungry for good players, and if Brunson, Murray, Julius Randle, RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin couldn’t exactly scare the Bucks, Heat or Celtics, they would have been a good starting point. The Knicks would have been better. It’s about getting better.

It can no longer be scrap picks that look like the LifeCycle you bought years ago, unused and serving primarily as a place to hang shirts, pants, and jackets. There are no trophies given for storage.

There is something to win.

And the easiest route to that golden path is to gather better players. Brunson is a start. But it is only the beginning. There are all these choices. There’s suddenly $30 million in ceiling space. There’s a gaping talent gap between the Knicks and most of the rest of the East. Murray wouldn’t have made the bridge on his own. But it would have been a good start.

Now we are waiting for Rose to show us something else. We’re waiting for him to reveal plan B. Until he officially folds his hand, we should just be skeptical, not fatalistic. Yet in the wake of that, and with a business history that has had more misses than hits so far, it’s impossible not to remember this line from Gordon Gekko to Bud Fox in “Wall Street”:

“I’m afraid mate, unless your dad is on the board of another company, you and I are going to have a really hard time doing business together.”

Rose already exhausted his quota of available assistant coaches/former clients/star father when he hired Rick Brunson. Now comes the hardest part: getting an impact deal that makes the Knicks better. Do what real team presidents do. He was in the arena with Dejounte Murray, didn’t close the deal. Because he couldn’t? Because he wouldn’t?

Because there’s something better out there?

Put it this way: there better be some.