Reggie Miller says it’s time for the Knicks to make a splash.
In the wake of the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2013, the Knicks are now faced with the challenge of achieving a period of sustained success and avoiding a return to the abyss. To Miller, an analyst for TNT, the next step is rather straightforward.
“To me, I think they need a superstar,” Miller said Thursday afternoon on a conference call. “For instance, I’m just saying, if they would’ve had a Damian Lillard along with a Julius Randle, that’s something where you can really say, OK, the Knicks are loaded and ready.
“They are a superstar away from really taking it to the next level.”
The Knicks discovered a foundational piece to their future in the 26-year-old Randle, who averaged 24.1 points and 10.4 rebounds en route to All-NBA second team honors. Yet in the playoffs against the Hawks, Randle struggled, shooting a woeful 29.8 percent from the field. As he sputtered, the Knicks offense stalled, with their playoff run coming to an abrupt end in just five games.
Pairing Randle with a bona fide superstar would presumably prevent the team’s offensive issues from plaguing a future playoff run. Acquiring a player of that talent, though, is easier said than done.
“There are 10 teams like [the Knicks], 10 teams that are a superstar away,” former NBA player and TNT analyst Kenny Smith said. “Being a superstar away, does that make me closer to being good? If I don’t get him, then what am I? And who is that superstar that’s gonna be available? Who is that superstar who’s gonna be there?”
Smith stressed the importance of internal development among RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley, a trio of young players who could provide a stable core around Randle. Even if Barrett, Toppin and Quickley progress in the fashion that the franchise hopes, Miller still believes the Knicks would need a superstar to make serious noise in the Eastern Conference.
But landing a superstar, the sort of player that has eluded the Knicks in recent years, may be easier now that the franchise has climbed out of the basement and seemingly returned to relevancy.
“I’m saying this year, what they did and how they played, how hard they played, they made the Knicks more attractive for a superstar,” Miller said, “ ’cause the last few years, nobody wanted to come to New York and play there. It’s a little bit more attractive now if you’re a superstar. There’s a little bit of a building block now. And it’s New York.
“Knicks fans should be celebrating because it was eight or nine years when they had been in the toilet. And people were wondering, when is the No. 1 media market getting ready to come back? Well, they came back this year.”
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