Damian Lillard, in the midst of whatever restlessness he had with the Trail Blazers last summer, was most prominently connected to the Knicks in trade rumors.
Lillard has seemingly settled back in with Portland, his longstanding loyalty winning out. But he might have also had a change of thinking on New York.
Lillard stayed put and appears OK with the Blazers’ new blueprint and is no longer intrigued by New York’s plan, according to sources.
I question how intrigued Lillard ever was with the Knicks outside wishful thinking by some New Yorkers.
But the Knicks’ plan looks worse now than it did a year ago, when they were coming off their first playoff appearance in eight years. Signing veterans to short contracts seemed good when the team is winning. When losing, long-term flexibility isn’t enough to satisfy.
As team president Leon Rose implemented this plan, my big concern was impatience – namely by owner James Dolan. Especially absent winning, New York usually goes only so long before doing something desperate and foolish. Those concerns are re-intensifying after a one-year hiatus.
The Knicks didn’t land Lillard. Now what?
But Utah seems highly disinclined to trade Mitchell. He’d had to push hard to get to the Knicks. What if he sees the same issues as Lillard? Missing on Lillard is one thing. If his indisposition toward New York represents the feelings of stars throughout the league, that’s a much bigger problem.
At some point, the Knicks must upgrade their roster. Otherwise, all bets are off on how Dolan will react.