The New York Knicks may have fallen woefully short of meeting the lofty expectations that resulted from their incredible second-half run in 2020-21, but the club’s recent play offers at least some hope for the future.
New York has won 10 of its last 16 games, despite the fact that both Derrick Rose and Julius Randle appear to have already played their final games this season. Along the way, the team’s youngsters have shown flashes of their potential.
The turnaround begs the question — what might the Knicks be capable of in the future if they can find someone (anyone!) to run point for the young guns?
Clearly, the team missed the boat in a major way with the Kemba Walker signing. However, Leon Rose and his brain trust may have also dropped the ball by giving another floor general his walking papers.
Specifically, Argentine baller Luca Vildoza, who looks to be joining one of the best teams in the Association.
Vildoza to Sign With the Bucks
Per a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Vildoza has come to terms on a deal with the defending champion Bucks. In addition to making him a participant in Milwaukee’s playoff run, the contract is said to run through the 2022-23 season.
Clearly, the Bucks have a level of belief in his ability to quarterback an NBA team if they’re willing to make such a commitment to him. And, if that’s the case, one has to wonder if the Knicks might have been wise to keep him in the fold.
New York had signed the 6-foot-3 guard to a four-year, $13.6 million deal last spring. However, he suffered a right ankle injury during summer league play, which eventually resulted in fluid in his foot and surgery.
Rather than keeping him on the roster as he rehabbed, the Knicks opted to sever ties.
“You gotta make roster decisions this time of the year, and so availability is a big part of it,” Knicks coach Thibodeau said at the time, via the New York Post. “And we feel that the guys who are here, those are the guys that are fighting it out for that last spot. But he’s a good player and we wish him well.”
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Vildoza Was a EuroLeague Standout
The 26-year-old may not have any NBA experience under his belt, but he’s definitely no greenhorn. Playing for the Spanish side Saski Baskonia — the same club the Knicks once plucked Pablo Prigioni from — Vildoza captured an ACB championship in 2020 and was also named Finals MVP for his efforts.
Last season, he appeared in 62 games for the Vitoria-Gasteiz-based team, averaging 10.6 points, 3.5 assists and 1.6 steals across all competitions. He also connected on 37.6% of his three-point attempts.
The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov once appraised him as “an adroit passer, who can create highlights.”