The excitement around Kristaps Porzingis and the arrival of Robin Lopez (now set to face off against brother Brook and the Nets) has revitalized the Knicks/Nets rivalry, a bit, but there's still a long way to go.
The rebuilding Nets are 5-13, but while still one game under .500, at 9-10, New York is on the right track. With that in mind, the Knicks are hoping to make the Big Apple a premiere destination for players once again. Perhaps more specifically in this case, the focus is on making donning the orange and blue an enticing opportunity.
"For the Knicks, we're in a pretty unique place -- we're not a taxpayer anymore," General Manager Steve Mills recently told ESPN. "We'll have cap room again. And the buzz that is happening here, with [Porzingis] and Melo, should certainly make us more attractive to free agents."
The emergence of Porzingis, along with the Knicks' ability to scout such a talent and have him go on to silence the critics, is changing the general perception of the team relativity quickly. Should Carmelo Anthony, Porzingis and Co. continue to steadily chase the light at the tunnel, the landscape of New York basketball should change rather quickly as well, especially if the team is able to reel in a promising free agent or two next summer. As Mills alludes to, they'll certainly have the flexibility to keep making improvements.
The positive atmosphere and the change in culture is something players are already taking note of.
"I want to finish my career here," Arron Afflalo said. "Having a good young player and a winning team should help us get other guys."
The guard holds a player option for next season.
Afflalo proved to be New York's top free agent acquisition this past summer, which led to doubt that the Knicks could reel in a more marquee player if they wanted to.
"Our inability to pitch was overstated," Mills said.
"Agents have told me there are a lot of players that feel really good about the Knicks, but they want to see things translate into something positive on the court first," the executive revealed.
But thanks to a healthy Anthony, Porzingis, and a seemingly unified collective effort from all, prospective players may be finding what they're looking for sooner than expected.