Paul Pierce’s ankles were asking to be broken.
If we’re being objective: we have a 36-year-old basketball player, who although is extremely technically skilled and productive, is not quite the picture of youth and athleticism, matching up against a 23-year-old explosive, quick guard in Iman Shumpert.
At this stage in their careers, Iman Shumpert is everything that Paul Pierce is not. We need more Iman Shumperts on the Knicks. We need more players who can start a new era, who can help us try to forget all these years waiting. We need players who can win another championship for us in the coming years and the not so distant future.
What we absolutely and unequivocally do not need, however, are players like Paul Pierce. We don’t need former All-Stars or Defensive Player of the Year winners like Kenyon Martin or Metta World Peace; we don’t want veterans who were simply assets at their long-passed peak. We want the future All-Stars and MVPs, the players who you take a chance on because of their athleticism, or their potential, or their raw talent.
This is a concept that the Knicks have struggled with for years, practically since their conception, and is a strategy that few teams have yet to fully grasp. In this scenario, Paul Pierce is the Nets. The win-now, extravagantly-spending Nets, whose sleekness and novelty haven’t quite worn off yet. The Nets are a prime example of a team adopting the win-now strategy, and although they fared better than the Knicks this season, no one can say they lived up to expectations.
The win-now model simply doesn’t work.
If you plan for such a small window of time for your team to be successful, with many of your players teetering on the edge of injury or even retirement, chances are that your expectations will not be met. Chances are that something will go wrong, that the team will simply not be strong enough to succeed.
We don’t want to be like the Nets. We don’t want to be the win-now team. We should be planning for the future, like Oklahoma City did, or Cleveland has, or even Golden State.
And yet every year the Knicks succumb to the win-now model. Why, you might ask? It’s quite straightforward: the Knicks are simply afraid of being bad in such a demanding market like New York City. So instead of undergoing a rebuilding season, they load the roster with aging, former stars, who they sell to the public as immediate contributors to the team. But in the end, it usually doesn’t end up being any more successful than it would have during a rebuilding year, and they don’t have any potential assets (or picks) for the future.
This is why Paul Pierce’s ankles were broken. Paul Pierce and the Nets are the epitome of the win-now team. Former stars don’t succeed in the long run - it’s the future stars that prevail. So although Paul Pierce may become a Hall of Famer, it’s players like Iman Shumpert who have a place in today’s future of basketball.