The New York Knicks will sign their 2nd-round draft pick Thanasis Antetokounmpo to their D-League affiliate team, the Westchester Knicks, according to RealGM. This comes after the puzzling acquisition for Travis Outlaw and Quincy Acy, which reeked of adding experience for a playoff push in light of Carmelo Anthony’s mega deal. New York knows that with the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani — as well as the strengthening of many Eastern Conference teams — Derek Fisher’s side isn’t in the best position to contend for more than a first round exit, so making the playoffs seems to be the goal… for now.
With depth at Small Forward — Carmelo Anthony, Cleanthony Early, Tim Hardaway Jr., and J.R. Smith will all play some minutes at the 3 — Thanasis became superfluous and with the rumored trade of Amar’e to Philadelphia still hanging around, the Knicks decided to keep him close instead of stashing him abroad. Not to mention, reports claim that Thanasis chose to stay in the NBDL, while shunning offers overseas.
The most important thing about Thanasis signing with the Westchester Knicks is that he won’t be attending training camp at all. In order for him to attend training camp, the Knicks would’ve had to offer him a contract. However, that is a risky proposition because of the lack of roster space that the Knicks currently have. If Thanasis didn’t perform well and needed to be cut, the Knicks would’ve had to forfeit their draft rights to him, which would’ve allowed any team in the Association to sign him. Luckily for Phil and the Knicks, he’ll be going straight to the D-League to hone up his skills.
Not since the Van Gundy era have we’ve seen such foresight from this organization. Knicks have evolved from a blind kitten to a purring majestic lioness waiting in the bushes waiting to pounce on her next dinner all under the reign of Phil Jackson.
The talk on draft night was that Thanasis isn’t quite NBA ready compared to his younger, more talented brother Giannis, but he displays NBA caliber defensive attributes and with a bit more polishing he should be able contribute soon. The rules between NBA teams and D-League teams should be reworked in a way where teams can send down rookies or players at will without the threat of forfeiting draft rights or needing to void contracts the way MLB use minor leagues to stash away talent that aren’t quite as developed — which I think is where the league will be headed soon.
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