If there’s one thing more entertaining than a franchise that has all of its bearings together and knows how to put out a great, watchable product, it’s a franchise that is capable of doing the exact opposite. A dysfunctional franchise is a gift to the casual NBA viewer in need of entertainment through the early, slower part of the regular season. Even though the team is usually bad — there are dysfunctional franchises that could put out a respectable team — it brings so much joy to watch a team struggle at some of the most simple aspects of the game.
What constitutes a team as dysfunctional could be many things, not limited to consistently poor free agency and offseason decisions, a front office composed of degenerate members of society, players whose negative influence ends up affecting the whole team, and a stockade of bad, unmovable contracts weighing the franchise down.
Sometimes, though, a lot of the dysfunction could be attributed to bad luck. Injuries can become rampant and end up throwing off the entire season, but even that could be blamed on the front office as management was clearly unaware of how certain players are injury-prone, or were signed coming off of a serious, career-threatening injury. Say, trading a starting center for another starting center that was coming off offseason back surgery? Or even trading for a 35-year-old and a 37-year-old that were in obvious decline?
Those are the kinds of deals that could cause a franchise to self-destruct. It stems from questionable free agency moves or simply having ignorant and/or deplorable human beings making the moves.
But we all know what they say about good intentions, right? I’m taking a look at a few places almost no good player wants to end up in, as well as what led up to their label and why they could be stuck in this purgatory for a disturbingly long period.
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NEW YORK KNICKS
There’s not a franchise in sports that’s more enthralling in the offseason than the New York Knicks.
Once July 1 rolls around and the dust has settled from the championship that the Knicks haven’t won in four decades, we, the NBA fanbase, wait with bated breath to see what the New York brass is going to do next.
They didn’t disappoint this past offseason. Not only did they sign a 34-year-old Metta World Peace to shoot below 40 percent from the field, but they also traded fan-favorite Steve Novak, and Quentin Richardson, Marcus Camby and three draft picks — THREE DRAFT PICKS — for Andrea Bargnani, a player the Toronto Raptors couldn’t wait to rid themselves of last year.
Did I mention the Knicks gave up three draft picks for Bargnani, who is currently shooting 29 percent from beyond the arc and averaging 5.2 rebounds as the starting center? New York gave up their second-round picks in 2014 and 2017, as well as a first-rounder in 2016, for someone who had shot 39 percent and averaged less than four rebounds per game the previous year.
Let’s not forget that the Knicks, currently at 7-17, will not have a lottery pick in next year’s loaded draft because they gave up their pick in the deal that brought in Carmelo Anthony, who could be a free agent next summer.
Somehow, it just keeps getting worse. Whether it’s giving a load of money to a player who required offseason knee surgery or trying to trade away one of the few promising players on this team, while throwing coach Mike Woodson under the bus in the process, the Knicks continue to prove why they have been one of professional sports most laughable franchises.
Honestly, though, when this is the play that is being run to win games, perhaps there is some merit to claiming Iman Shumpert‘s development has been stunted by Woodson:
Let’s also not forget that the team is currently employing Chris Smith, J.R.’s younger brother who may have a spot on a roster simply because of nepotism, and continue to hold out hope that the ‘New York Knicks’ name alone will entice guys like Kevin Love into signing when he becomes a free agent.
What the franchise doesn’t realize is that the name is no longer a draw. It’s been run through the muck, beaten and left in a ditch by the front office personnel who put on the facade that this is a legitimate franchise with legitimate aspirations. All hope is abandoned when entering the once-sacred halls of Madison Square Garden.
This franchise is a nightmare. The fans ride into every season either with the hopes that this is finally the year it all comes together, that they’ll be good enough to convince free agents to join their team, or that they’ll be bad enough to tank for a draft pick or a high-price free agent.
The worst part, though? The fans fall into these traps, and not just once or twice but over and over again. They convinced themselves LeBron James was coming in 2010. They convinced themselves Chris Paul was going to form a superior ‘Big Three’ with Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. They convinced themselves Jeremy Lin was the savior of the city. Each overzealous, ambitious proclamation has ended in disappointment, just as every Knick season since 1973 has.