Knicks fans have waited more than 40 years for an NBA title. One former NBA champion thinks the wait will be at least one U.S. president longer.
ESPN analyst Bruce Bowen, who won three NBA championships with the San Antonio Spurs, said in an interview with Newsday that the Knicks are "at least four years" from winning an NBA title.
The Knicks should look to add the "right veterans" via free agency, Bowen explained, because this year's draft class isn't NBA ready.
"Look at Kentucky and all the bigs they have," he said. "They only have one year of college experience. It takes time for guys to adjust to this level, adjust to the physicality of what the NBA is."
One college player caught Bowen's eye, though: Duke's 6-10 center Jahlil Okafor. The 19-year-old likely would be the No. 1 pick if he declares for the NBA draft this summer. At 10-42, the Knicks have the worst record in the league and the best chance at landing the No. 1 overall pick.
"I like Okafor," Bowen said. "He's a big that plays with his back to the basket . . . You look at the talented guys that have been bigs in this game and the longevity of their careers, the guys that have been able to play with their back to the basket."
The 2015 free-agent class is headlined by Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldrige, Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol and Dallas Mavericks guard Rajon Rondo. The Knicks will have nearly $30 million in cap space to spend on surrounding Carmelo Anthony with a legitimate superstar.
But they don't need to spend it all in 2015. The free-agent class of 2016 is just as good, if not better. Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah and Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley are just a few names who could be available.
Once the Knicks retool, Bowen said the team culture has to change, and it starts with making each other better. That's why they needed to trade J.R. Smith, he said.
"I would not have J.R. Smith," said Bowen, who played 13 seasons in the NBA. "That's a canker sore. Whenever you got a canker sore in your jaw, every time you get a little something acid, it burns a little bit. He's gone because he teaches bad habits to others."
Bowen said the Knicks already have a player they need to create a winning culture.
"[Carmelo] is the type of player that you need on the floor to get to a championship," he said. " . . . You want a player like Carmelo on your team if you're in the Finals."
As for the rest of the team, Bowen said the Knicks may need to look back to move forward.
"I want guys that understand, with good basketball IQs and hungry," he said. "I'd show them films of [Charles] Oakley, Latrell Sprewell, Allan Houston. I would show them those clips and say, 'Hey, when you play like this, this city will love you.' "