The regular season is over, and for the sixth season in a row the New York Knicks’ year is over at the start of April, once again denying fans the opportunity to enjoy some post-season basketball at Madison Square Garden.
While Knicks supporters can only watch on in envy as city rivals the Brooklyn Nets take Game 1 in Toronto to give them the perfect head-start in a very tricky Eastern Conference series, some former players from Manhattan’s finest still maintain the pipe dream of becoming an NBA Champion by June. Let’s take a look at five players to look out for in the playoffs with past links to the New York Knicks.
Enes Kanter (Portland Trail Blazers) – 2017-2019
So many Knicks fans were delighted to hear that Turkish center Enes Kanter had been moved off the books at MSG just a few months ago when he and the franchise agreed on parting ways. While far from perfect under his own basket, Kanter was considered among the very best in offensive rebounding, and was capable of putting up pretty nice numbers when needed.
A luxury that the Knicks could not afford to keep around in so many ways, Kanter’s off-court issues began to derail his future in New York. His ongoing political issues in his home country continue to dominate headlines, and he himself has upset many fans in the Big Apple by being just a tad brattish with some of his social media swipes at David Fizdale and the coaching of the team.
On the flip side, Kanter has been a great pick up for the Blazers, who look to him to bound and score the ball with Jusef Nurkic’s gruesome season-ending injury just a short while ago. In Sunday’s Game 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kanter was simply fantastic, even impressing on the defensive end which surprised even yours truly. He scored 20 points and grabbed 18 boards, a stellar display by ‘Big Turkey’. Expect to see a lot more of him in this years’ play-off run, as I see the Blazers going deep into the post-season this year.
Wesley Matthews (Indiana Pacers) 2019
One day, people will look back at Wesley Matthews’ career and remark ‘Did you know he once played for the New York Knicks?’ A quiz question in an obscure NBA quiz for sure in the future, but after the blockbuster Porzingis trade to the Dallas Mavericks, Matthews played in two games for the team before being allowed to leave to join the Indiana Pacers for their play-off run-in.
He wasn’t going to Indiana just to be a small cog in Nate McMillan’s machine, but an integral part of any progression they’re going to have in the knockout competition. He’s started every single game since coming to the Pacers, including Sunday’s first game on the road to take on the Boston Celtics. After an impressive first-half which included some stout defending, the Pacers struggled massively after the interval, scoring just eight points in the entire third quarter.
Matthews scored 8 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist in just under 30 minutes on the court, shooting just 3/8 from the field, which wasn’t a particularly flattering display, but not among the biggest misfiring culprits that night, as the Pacers put up a total of 74 points all game. It isn’t beyond the realms of possibility for Indiana to come back from a 1-0 deficit to win the series, but it doesn’t seem too likely.
Langston Galloway (Detroit Pistons) – 2015-2016
I’m not going to say Langston Galloway has the Knicks to thank for his NBA career… but… you know, he did go undrafted out of college until they took a punt on him. Galloway has proven to be a nice shooter behind the arc in his career, and finally found himself a home in the Motor City after the Pistons handed him a $21million contract over three years.
Galloway’s season has been satisfactory, averaging 8.4 points per game in 21.8 minutes from the 80 games he’s played in, however, he has started just four games in the regular season (as per nba.com). His six points and seven rebounds made a little dent in the Milwaukee Bucks’ blowout win over Detroit, winning the game by 35 points with a final score of 121-86. Sadly for Galloway, the form would arguably tip to the Bucks to a series sweep, and with Blake Griffin struggling to stay healthy, their chances are shrinking by the game.
Danilo Gallinari & Wilson Chandler (LA Clippers) – 2008-2011 & 2007-2011
From one Gallo to another, Danilo Gallinari will be very impressed with his 2018/19 numbers, but like the true competitor he is, not so pleased if the Clippers’ post-season falls flat at the first hurdle, even if it is against the defending champions.
Gallinari enjoyed his best regular season yet in terms of shooting by averaging 19.8 points per game and has continued to improve since being traded away in 2011 as part of the Carmelo Anthony deal. He’s perhaps one of the most successful Knicks draftees in hindsight they wish they’d never traded away, but, c’est la vie. Despite making major roster moves this season in terms of letting high paid players leave, with the departure of Tobias Harris to the Sixers highlighting this, the Clippers still looked strong throughout the final batch of games, earning themselves a play-off finish.
The only problem? They have to face the Golden State Warriors in the first round. That’s rough. The Clippers put up a fight in Game 1 at the Oracle, losing 121-104, with Gallinari scoring 15 points in just under 30 minutes, grabbing 8 boards and recording 3 steals. A betting man would lump their cash on the Warriors taking this series, but despite a probable first-round exit, Gallinari can be proud of his season for sure.
Chandler meanwhile was also part of the package that brought Carmelo to MSG, however, his season hasn’t quite gone the same way as Gallo’s. Brought in by the Sixers during the off-season to add some quality to their second unit, Chandler was traded to the Clippers as part of that Harris deal mentioned above and hasn’t exactly found the minutes being thrown at him in LA. He played just under 9 minutes at the Warriors, scoring just 2 points.
Featured Image: NBA.com