You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Knicks.
Will LeBron James ever play for the Knicks? — Jeffrey Bernstein
I will never rule this one out — especially for his last season before retiring.
James has said the Garden is his favorite arena to play in. A lot depends not just on how his Lakers’ title journey pans out, but his son Bronny’s timetable.
Bronny James, finishing his freshman year at Sierra Canyon High School, is 15 years old and not eligible for the NBA draft until 2024 under current guidelines.
James, whose Lakers’ contract expires in 2022, would be 39 by then. He’s made no secret of wanting to play with his son. That would be a first in NBA history. James is very conscious of his legacy. Finishing it out in New York could add to his place in history.
When James was at the Garden on Jan. 23, he was asked if he would want to play for the Knicks if they drafted Bronny. James was amused.
“My son is in ninth grade, man,’’ James said. “We’re trying to worry about what project he’s got to turn in tomorrow, that’s what [we’re] worried about right now. That’s what’s most important: school, home and being the best big brother he can be.”
James didn’t say no. One food for thought is James’ superagent, Rich Paul, finally has a vested interest in the Knicks. The NBA power broker recently became the new agent for bedrock piece, center Mitchell Robinson.
After James bypassed the Knicks in 2010 free agency, sources told The Post James couldn’t see playing for the Knicks because of the fishbowl scrutiny on his family. That’s no longer an issue.
Isn’t it true that the legendary, knowledgeable Knicks fan base has been replaced by tourists and wealthy Manhattanites looking for a night out? How else do you explain the Garden being packed each night to watch such a poor product? — William Kreudl
It’s not as packed as the numbers suggest. Their daily average will drop for a fourth straight season.
The Knicks drew their smallest home crowd in nearly 13 years on March 4 against Utah. The 16,588 figure was 3,200 below capacity.
Though the Knicks are ranked 10th in attendance at an average 18,811, that is a little deceiving. Six clubs with a lower per game average have sold out all their games, including the Milwaukee Bucks. Of the Knicks’ 33 Garden games, just nine have been sell-outs.
However, considering the Knicks will miss the playoffs a seventh straight season, it is miraculous that many warm bodies were filling seats before the shutdown.
Credit the Knicks marketing department. It has stepped up promoting tickets to international tourists. Reporters have observed on our way down the crowded staircases at the 200-level to the press room level, we hear more foreign languages than English.
It will be interesting next season in the post-corona era and the potentially reduction of international travel.
If Julius Randle adjusts his style of play, is there a chance we see him in the long run? — Yaron Rahmani
While Leon Rose is open to trading power forward Julius Randle in the right deal, the Knicks president still has an attachment to him and hopes he will turn into a winning player. Remember Randle is a Creative Artists Agency client. Rose ran its basketball department until March 2.
Randle’s numbers were solid but he annoyed some teammates — as The Post reported — with a penchant of overdribbling and not moving the ball. Randle, 25, came on late to average 19.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He was on his third team in three years and admitted his trouble with adjusting to facing constant double-teams for the first time in his career. But his defense was subpar.
Still, there’s a lot to his package — just not as a No. 1 option and not in the role of point forward. His basketball IQ isn’t high enough. Randle also hasn’t been on a winning team in six seasons.
“Julius played really hard,’’ one NBA scout said. “I thought he showed at the end he can make the passing play when doubled and off the dribble 15 feet and in. His 3-point shooting dipped but he proved he still is capable of stretching the defense.’’
Do you think the Knicks will hire a female head coach for the 2020-21 season? — Chris Fiegler
Former Liberty star Becky Hammon became the first female full-time NBA assistant in 2014 with San Antonio. Ten other women have followed her as assistants but she’d be the most likely candidate to get a Knicks interview.
If the Knicks interviewed Hammon — and the belief is they would — it’s not just a publicity stunt. I truly believe Knicks brass would keep an open mind. Owner James Dolan would love that on his résumé after all his past foibles.
This may not be the right spot for the first women’s NBA head coach because of the massive scrutiny attached and the Knicks’ perennial circus. Hammon will be a head coach sometime, somewhere.
Gregg Popovich received heat for choosing Tim Duncan to run the team as head coach March when he missed the game for personal reasons.
Popovich wasn’t trying to make history. He has made it clear from the start that hiring Hammon wasn’t a gimmick. He did it because he felt Hammon, their summer-league head coach, could help the Spurs get better. It still will take an open-minded president to give Hammon her head-coaching break.