The annual NBA game in London seemingly came a year too soon for the New York Knicks.
Despite taking a 19-point lead against the Washington Wizards at the O2 Arena on Thursday, the Knicks fell to an 18th loss in their last 20 games in dramatic fashion.
A goaltending violation was called on Allonzo Trier on a Thomas Bryant shot in the final second and it proved decisive as the Wizards completed a brilliant 101-100 victory.
With a young roster largely made up of underachieving lottery picks – eight of them, to be precise, three of which they selected themselves – and some who missed out entirely in the draft, the 10-34 Knicks appear destined for a fifth straight season with at least 50 losses. They have not made the playoffs since 2013.
However, while this season should already be written off, it could still prove to be a huge year in New York. A star-studded free agency period is coming in the offseason, with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard the stand-out names who may be available.
The Knicks will be in a position to spend money, and their financial situation may improve even further before then if they can offload some of their higher earners. Enes Kanter, who sat out the game against the Wizards due to fears for his safety amid tensions with Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is reported to be on the trade block, albeit he is already an expiring contract.
Close one in London. pic.twitter.com/VrS4gC3kBA— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 17, 2019
It is widely believed Durant – who would be required to opt out of the one-year player option with the Golden State Warriors – is their top target, though he did his best to evade such suggestions when the Knicks were beaten by the reigning champions in Oakland on January 9.
"I have no clue where that stuff comes from, I just focus on playing ball every single day," said the 2014 MVP.
"I can't control what people say about me or what they say about my future or what I should do, but I just come to work every single day and life will figure itself out from here."
However, the Knicks will need Kristaps Porzingis, yet to play this season after an anterior cruciate ligament injury, to sign agreeable terms after they opted against taking up the option to extend his rookie contract. To really make strides next season, the All-Star would need to be tied down to a deal that does not compromise their potential ability to bring in Durant.
This shoddy season might also enable them to land Duke sensation Zion Williamson.
The 18-year-old looks perfect to play in the NBA and could be a franchise-leading star in the future. He is undoubtedly a talent worth tanking for.
Yet Kanter, Mario Hezonja, Emmanuel Mudiay and Noah Vonleh are among the players set to be out of contract and they will not be happy to be on a team vying for the worst record in the NBA. Such individuals will be keen to prove their worth over the coming months in order to secure a place in the league next season – either with the Knicks or elsewhere. Mudiay did just that with a team-high 25 points against the Wizards, albeit in a losing cause.
But the Knicks' own roster shows that rebuilding from the lottery is not always a certainty for success, and cautionary tales can be seen with the Orlando Magic and the Phoenix Suns, while the Sacramento Kings finally appear to have hit the right track and could earn a playoff spot after 12 barren years.
Of course, the chances of Durant and Williamson playing alongside Porzingis at Madison Square Garden next season appear slim at best. However, the possibility of 2019 being a turning point for one of the NBA's most famous franchises remains a real possibility.
20 de mayo 2019
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|Ancelotti happy at Napoli amid Juventus links|
|Hemel Stags on course for Ottawa relocation, New York club a work in progress|
|Nadal overtakes Federer´s top-10 streak|
|Omitting Wahab and Amir would have been foolish - Inzamam|
|Scotland appoint Kilmarnock boss Clarke|
|I´ll keep my place if Pogba arrives at Madrid – Kroos|
|Kroos: Madrid struggles ´normal´ after Champions League dominance|
|Pogba, Hazard and Mbappe in, Bale and Isco out? - Real Madrid set for busy close-season|
|Double amputee Monger stunned by Grand Prix de Pau triumph|
|Walter to take over Stuttgart from next season|
|Giannis expects Milwaukee to buck their ideas up after Game 3 loss|
|Bolivian FA confirms death of referee Victor Hugo Hurtado|
|Australia opener Burns leaves Lancashire for personal reasons|
|Record-breaking female driver Chadwick lands Williams development chance|
|Semedo cleared of concussion to boost Barcelona|
|Iguodala questionable for Game 4|
|Neymar should not captain Brazil at Copa America - Edmilson|
|Wahab, Amir and Asif named in final Pakistan World Cup squad|
|Bale staying at Madrid impossible as Zidane is ´not keen´ - Calderon|
|Kroos agrees Real Madrid extension to 2023|
|Gundogan to renew contract talks with Manchester City|
|Folau opts not to appeal against Rugby Australia ban, still considering options|
|Nadal clear French Open favourite – Djokovic|
|Nedved: No Juve decision amid Sarri and Inzaghi links|
|Gil Marin: We need players totally committed to Atletico|
|Gardner´s big game helps Yankees pull away from Rays|
|This is playoff basketball – Leonard on playing through injury in Raptors win|
|Second most NRL games and 99 tries – Cronk´s career in Opta numbers|
|Spieth: I´m almost back at my best|
|Three takeaways from Raptors´ key Game 3 win over Bucks|
|Trail Blazers star Lillard addresses rib injury|
|Raptors top Bucks in double-OT thriller|
|MLS Review: Nani brace lifts Orlando, Galaxy stunned by Rapids|
|Cronk: It´s been one hell of a ride|
|Johnson upbeat despite falling short|
|Koepka holds on at US PGA – how a dramatic back nine unfolded at Bethpage Black|
|´Phenomenal´ and ´mind-blowing´ – Koepka basks in US PGA triumph|
|NRL great Cronk to retire at season´s end|
|Kevin Muscat to leave Melbourne Victory|
|Bethpage wobble does little to deny Koepka´s status as golf´s dominant major force|
|Brooks Koepka´s timeline of major dominance following US PGA triumph|
|Koepka relieved to retain US PGA title after ´stressful´ finish|
|Allegri seeking a challenge, not a sabbatical|
|Koepka retains PGA title despite back-nine collapse|
|Spalletti tells players to prove they´ve the bottle to play for Inter|
|City want to dominate English football forever, says Laporte|
|Fernando Alonso fails to quality for Indy 500|
|Bordeaux collapse to costly defeat, Stade hopes dashed by Montpellier|
|Valverde pessimistic about Coutinho, Dembele playing in Copa final|
19 de mayo 2019
|Koepka collapse sets up grandstand finale at PGA|
|Everyone would want our situation - De Bruyne not concerned by Champions League failure|
|Mbappe drops PSG exit hint|
|Guardiola: I´ll be judged on Champions League record at Man City|
|Gattuso thankful to Milan penalty hero Donnarumma|
|Johnson cuts Koepka lead to four with nine to play at Bethpage|
|Arthur ´very confident´ in Pakistan CWC hopes despite losing streak|
|Juventus 1 Atalanta 1: Mandzukic spares Allegri from defeat in home finale|
|Napoli 4 Inter 1: Spalletti´s side crushed as Champions League race goes to the wire|
|Woakes: World Cup wait makes for nervy Monday|
|Koepka retains control of PGA after early wobble|
|Tsonga topples Lajovic in Lyon|
|Galatasaray edge derby to retain Super Lig title|
|Sabalenka ends clay drought in style with Strasbourg success|
|Here´s to you, Vincent Kompany – The giant of Manchester City´s changing times|
|Wonderful Woakes stars as England wrap up 4-0 win|
|AC Milan 2 Frosinone 0: Piatek and Suso keep top-four hopes intact|
|Messi equals Zarra´s record with sixth Pichichi award|
|Ireland outclass Afghanistan in Belfast|
|Ligue 1 sensation Pepe to leave Lille|