You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Knicks.
There is so much talk about Giannis (Antetokounmpo) being a free agent in ’21 and his being available to the Knicks. Do you think he’d really be interested in the Knicks given that he hates the team after the fiasco with his brother? — Sam V
The season’s potential cancellation will most hurt Milwaukee, which had a league-best 53-12 unit that many experts felt had the momentum to win the championship. Antetokounmpo seems to want to stay in Milwaukee when he becomes a 2021 free agent, but only if the Bucks stand as a title contender. Sources indicate the pandemic has changed things so drastically, it’s hard to pinpoint Antetokounmpo’s future plans.
Who knows what could happen with next season’s rosters — potentially Antetokounmpo’s last season in Brew City.
The Knicks’ lure is the bigger stage but they probably won’t be a winner in 2020-21. And we know Antetokounmpo was disappointed with the franchise when it didn’t give his brother, Thanasis, a 2013 second-round pick, a chance. Thanasis, who played just two games with the Knicks, is now with the Bucks.
Before the Knicks faced Milwaukee in London in 2015, Giannis told The Post, “I thought he [would] get called up before the game. I’m a little disappointed he’s not going to play tomorrow against me.”
Then came a weird remark in a documentary last season from one of Giannis’ agents, Giorgos Panou, who stated the Knicks were the lone team not to send a scout to Greece to watch Giannis play. The Knicks denied the charge.
Alex Antetokounmpo, the youngest brother, has decided to skip college to play in Europe. The Knicks may have another chance to make good with Giannis in the 2021 draft.
If [LaMelo] Ball doesn’t fall to the Knicks and they don’t love any of the other points available, why not take a good 3-point shooter at forward or shooting guard, let [Frank] Ntilikina and [Elfrid] Payton run the show one more year, and get your point guard next year? — Cruellerb
That’s how ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla sees it. After Ball, there doesn’t seem a slam-dunk, high-upside PG, though Cole Anthony could be worth the gamble. Fraschilla believes the Knicks should take the best player on the board when they draft — perhaps Israeli point forward Deni Avdija — and snare a point guard with their second first-rounder. Fraschilla recommended Alabama’a Kira Lewis, but he may not drop to 27. In this economic crisis, the Knicks are in position to trade up from 27 offering James Dolan’s money, Dennis Smith Jr. or one of Dallas’ future first-rounders. Having Ntilikina run the point for another season wouldn’t be criminal, especially since expectations on winning in 2020-21 are low. I doubt they exercise the option, though, on Payton in the new economics.
Submit questions on your favorite New York teams to be answered in an upcoming mailbag
Why is Mark Jackson being blackballed? — Gabe
Jackson says he wants to get back into coaching, but some executives wonder if he’s ever taken the right steps to make himself more marketable. Last June, former Warrior Andre Iguodala said Jackson is being blackballed because of his strong religious beliefs.
It’s true the Warriors were concerned of his religious principles affecting work. But there was more. Before becoming head coach in Golden State, he had never worked for an organization, including as an assistant coach. That backfired because he failed to put together a sound staff of assistants with whom he got along. Jackson also didn’t feel it was a priority to have a strong bond with ownership/management.
Since getting whacked in 2014, Jackson returned to the broadcast booth without seeking to learn more as an assistant. It still seems bizarre he’s had so few interviews because you can make the case he’s a strong leader and motivator who still connects with the modern-day player. He turned the woebegone Warriors into a winner, compiling a 121-109 record. He certainly should get an interview with the Knicks if they don’t re-sign Mike Miller — and the Nets, too.
I am 59 and have been a Knicks fan my whole life. Since after winning the 2nd title in 1973, management has continued to screw over the fans & team and I don’t mean just [James] Dolan; the team was a mess before him. Why should I continue being a fan? — Willis Jones
Because when the Knicks dramatically turn it around and break the title drought that is now 47 years, it will be best experience of your lifetime. After all the pain and suffering, New York will go wild if the Knicks can get back to the NBA Finals. It will feel more special than the 1990s glory days because of all the sickening losing across the past 19 seasons. Just ask Red Sox fans if it was worth the wait.
Your first name is Willis and you’re old enough to recall what it was like when another Willis patrolled the Garden for the Knicks’ two titles. The Knicks’ $4.6 billion value afforded them by Forbes in February will shrink following this pandemic, but seeing the franchise rise from the dead will be priceless.
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