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ESPN Round Table: NY Knicks might not be competing with Celtics

Holding a round table with five staff members, ESPN, according to Athlon Sports, was asked which Eastern Conference team was closer to the Boston Celtics following free agency activity. Not seeing New York’s team as a threat to the Celtics, the staff members passed over the Knicks in favor of the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Knicks have had a busy offseason. Starting high, the Brooklyn Nets’ Mikal Bridges joined the team and Anounoby was re-signed. Shortly after, Isaiah Hartenstein left to join the Oklahoma City Thunder, a major bummer for the Knicks.

The Knicks also failed to sign the center that aided them in their near Eastern Conference Finals berth. Athlon Sports blames these circumstances on new CBA rules. President of the Knicks Leon Rose was, apparently, afraid of hitting the second apron.

Based on Sportico, the second apron is “an additional level…$17.5 million over the luxury tax threshold”. The Knicks would face roster-building restrictions if their payroll got too high. The main priority, for Rose, was to keep this from happening.

Philadelphia’s team, meanwhile, filled their roster quickly to reach free agency. Athlon Sports mentions that the 76ers have signed Paul George, Eric Gordon, Andre Drummond, and Kelly Oubre Jr. Tyrese Maxey, in addition to signing with the team, received a five-year extension.

The Philly team isn’t immune to losses and drawbacks, though. Nicolas Batum left for the Los Angeles Clippers and De’Anthony Melton became a Golden State Warrior. Meanwhile, Joel Embiid and Paul George’s history of injuries might cause problems for the team in the long run.

Though the 76ers have done more to stand out in the eyes of ESPN than the Knicks, winning free agency doesn’t determine which team wins it all. Both teams have their share of wins and losses, the 2025 playoffs will determine how well the teams have been able to adjust to what has come their way.

It’s been 24 years since the Knicks have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but that doesn’t mean doing it again is impossible. Athlon Sports predicts that New York’s basketball team, now with younger players, could improve. If this turns out to be true, it’ll be a major win for the Knicks and their fans.

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