On Sunday, the league-worst New York Knicks hosted the LeBron James-led Los Angeles Lakers, relying on a late-game rally to pick up a close 124-123 victory against their slumping opponents. While the win meant that the Lakers were the only team the Knicks were able to sweep in the 2018-19 NBA season, that — according to a new op-ed from Forbes — doesn’t take away from from the fact that both teams are in the homestretch of what have been “depressing and forgettable” seasons. The op-ed goes on to suggest that the Knicks could potentially learn a thing or two from the Lakers’ perceived mistakes.
On Monday morning, Forbes‘ Shlomo Sprung started by acknowledging that there is one good thing the Lakers did that the Knicks could emulate — drafting quality young players. He mentioned how Los Angeles was able to draft Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma over the past few seasons, helping them to achieve success in the early stages of their career. The Knicks, meanwhile, selected Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, and Mitchell Robinson in the 2017 and 2018 drafts, all of whom have been key parts of the Knicks’ rotation at various points in the current season.
Despite the promise shown by the Knicks’ youngsters, Sprung warned that the team shouldn’t give up too easily on their young player — much like the Lakers did when they traded Russell to the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2017, only for him to develop into an All-Star. He added that New York might have repeated that one Lakers mistake already, after trading injured star forward Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks in a deal that brought second-year point guard Dennis Smith Jr. to the Knicks.
The Knicks snap their 8-game losing streak and sweep their season series vs the Lakers, using a 13-1 run over the final 3:45 to win by a single point.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 17, 2019
The Lakers are now 31-39 through 70 games for a second consecutive season. pic.twitter.com/uBbBC7fgDx
Talking about the drama that reportedly surrounded the Lakers locker room in the aftermath of the team’s failed attempts to trade for New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis, Sprung wrote that the Knicks should make sure to “insulate [their] young players” from similar trade rumors.
“New York was set back years when it dealt several top young pieces and draft picks mid-season to Denver for Carmelo Anthony back in 2011, but imagine how the young Knicks would’ve felt had the trade not gone through.”
To this end, Forbes‘ Sprung recommended that New York should work on big trades — may it be for Davis or any other potentially huge acquisition — during the offseason, especially if the Knicks plan to use any of their developing youngsters as trade bait. He added that the Knicks should also make the right decisions when signing complementary free agents, in the event that they sign someone like Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant or Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving in the offseason.
As was further explained, the Los Angeles Lakers made the mistake of “completely ignoring shooting” when they signed veterans such as Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson, and Michael Beasley, which led to LeBron James having to create his own shots more than he might have wanted to. According to Sprung, such an error on the Lakers’ part should teach the Knicks a lesson about acquiring bench players that won’t end up hindering their top players’ abilities.