NBA Rumors: Knicks Considered 'More of a Destination Today Than It Was in the Past'

Adam WellsApril 13, 2021

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 6:  A general view of the New York Knicks logo before a game against the Los Angeles Lakers on February 6, 2017 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The success of the New York Knicks in head coach Tom Thibodeau's first season could end up paying off down the line in free agency. 

Per The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor, people around the NBA believe the Knicks are "more of a destination today than it was in the past" when they struggled to attract top stars in trades and free agency:

"Team performance has gone a long way in repairing the organizationโ€™s image. But the people running the show have changed too, with a new front office led by former CAA agent Leon Rose and William Wesley (a.k.a. World Wide Wes). Fielding a competitive team and overhauling the front office is the same formula the big-market Clippers, Lakers, and Nets followed in recent years, with all three positioning themselves to appeal to their current superstars."

After posting seven consecutive losing records with no playoff appearances during that span, expectations weren't high for the Knicks coming into the 2020-21 campaign. 

Thibodeau and team president Leon Rose, who is in his first full year after being hired in March 2020, didn't make any drastic changes to the roster during the offseason, but an All-Star season from Julius Randle and one of the league's best defenses have propelled the Knicks into playoff contention. 

Randle is on pace to set career highs in scoring average (23.0 per game), rebounding (10.7) and three-point percentage (39.8). RJ Barrett has taken a step forward in his second season with 17.4 points per game on 37.8 percent three-point shooting. 

New York ranks first in the NBA with 104.2 points allowed per game and third with a 107.8 defensive rating. 

The Knicks are currently 28-27 overall and eighth in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. They aren't NBA Finals contenders at this point, but this season is an unqualified success based on where the franchise was between 2013-20. 

As long as the Knicks continue to show progress, playing in the New York market could make them a prime landing spot for stars who might hit the market as free agents or decide to request a trade from their current team.