With several names being linked back to New York, it will be a point of emphasis for the Knicks to stay calm and find the right player to contribute to their bright future.
It hasn’t even been a week yet, and the rumors surrounding who the New York Knicks could bring in this offseason have already begun. It’s an unusual sight for this team, which has struggled to bring in big names in years past. But following a season where New York exceeded expectations and found some success in the playoffs, the Knicks will be able to lure some quality players toward the Mecca of Basketball. It’s only May, so there is plenty of time before the Knicks make their next move.
However, recent history suggests that New York should be careful as to who they bring in. Just two off-season’s ago, Leon Rose and company got what was believed to be a major haul at the time, signing Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker. In addition to these moves, the Knicks also re-signed Derrick Rose, Alec Burks, and Nerlens Noel following their first playoff appearance in eight years at the time. Fast forward to the present and just two of those five players still remain with the team, Rose and Fournier, and they no longer crack the rotation.
While their tenures with the team haven’t panned out, they are in a unique position, especially since opposing contenders could use their services. The Knicks are likely to not have cap space this summer, so trades will become a point of emphasis to not only clear cap space, but to get some assets back in return. In addition, this will clear significant cap space for New York to sign or trade for a star. With the way the season ended and Jalen Brunson entering his prime years, we could see the Knicks try to utilize “the farm.”
Knowing Who Not To Target
This will certainly be an exciting offseason for New York, who have the ability to bring in another big name this offseason. But with several names circulating the rumor mills, the Knicks will have to dig deep to find the right players to contribute to their system. It may take some time, but fans should be confident in Leon Rose’s ability to locate those players and bring them in.
After all, he was the one who lured Brunson away from Dallas and backed out of a deal for Donovan Mitchell, whom the Knicks defeated in five games in the first round versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. But after their second-round exit against the Miami Heat, it’s clear that the team needs a more reliable second option due to Julius Randle and RJ Barrett’s spurts of inconsistency. It may be another long and painful summer full of trade rumors, but I wouldn’t feed too much into it. Take this one for example:
KAT ➡️ Big Apple
Should the Knicks and Timberwolves make this trade for Karl-Anthony Towns? 🤔#NewYorkForever | #RaisedByWolves pic.twitter.com/pc7sK0DNuz
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) May 15, 2023
Towns is no doubt a very solid player for the Minnesota Timberwolves. But this is too high a price for a player who really hasn’t accomplished much in his career besides being the first overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. To say that he could be a second option for this team is laughable, but this is more about the trade itself than the overall fit. While Towns is a career 40% three-point shooter, this is too high a price for the Knicks to pay, especially since Towns hasn’t been the best defender in recent years, and it’s something that clearly hasn’t translated to the NBA since his days at Kentucky.
Besides, Mitchell Robinson just had one of his best seasons. His offensive numbers were not eye-popping by any means but it was his rebounding and defense that helped him impact this team. His presence as a shot-blocker and rebounder created several second-chance opportunities this season, something that would likely change if KAT were to be brought in. This trade is clearly unrealistic. With more days that go by, there is sure to be more in the way of ridiculousness.
Finding a second option certainly won’t be easy for the Knicks, especially since they owe their top three guys in Brunson, Randle, and Barrett roughly $74 million next season. Factoring in Barrett’s new contract that features the poison pill provision, it makes Barrett’s contract more expensive for another team if he were to be traded before his new contract sets in this upcoming fall, which is unideal in terms of trying to move players.
Considering the Knicks will have limited money to work with this summer to not only retain their youth but add some shooting as well, it seems pretty unlikely that New York pulls off any significant moves this offseason. Although guys like Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, and Quentin Grimes all pose as valuable assets to bring in a star player, fans must remember that these guys helped the team tremendously this year, no matter how big or small a role they played on the team. These guys brought energy and intensity every night and this team certainly wouldn’t be the same without them there.
This means that the Knicks will likely have to rely on shedding the contracts of Fournier and Rose to help address their weaknesses. It was clear to see that the Knicks’ three-point shooting was abysmal in the playoffs, shooting 29.2% from distance, which was the worst in the entire postseason despite having reached the second round. While Brunson, Grimes, and Quickley all shot great from behind the arc during the regular season, they went extremely cold in the postseason, showing their inexperience and lack of mental toughness to hit shots within the flow of a playoff game. No doubt that the Knicks will be looking for shooters this offseason, ones that not only can hit crucial shots, but shooters that can also impact the box score in different ways.
Donte DiVincenzo is one of the first players that comes to mind. Although he was injured for the majority of the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2021 championship run, his play in the regular season and in the first round that year showed how important he was to the team, and maybe the Bucks’ run would have been more convincing with him healthy. For the Golden State Warriors this season, DiVincenzo shot a career-high 39% from three-point land, showing steady improvement over the course of his five-year career. In addition, he is a great defensive presence on the perimeter who will do anything to get the stop and turn it into a fast break the other way.
During the 2020-21 season, DiVincenzo had the third-best defensive rating in the league before going down with a severe left ankle injury, proving that he can be impactful. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to Knick fans, especially since Divincenzo is a former Villanova product who played alongside Brunson and Josh Hart and won Final Four Most Outstanding Player as well as two National Championships in the process. His personnel and pre-established chemistry would make him a great fit for the Knicks next season.
While it wasn’t the most ideal contract and situation, having Burks as an off-the-bench microwave scorer helped the Knicks establish themselves as one of the best benches in basketball. While the bench’s success did not translate in the playoffs, bringing back a guy like Burks gives this team a solid backup behind Barrett. It’s clear that he makes his teammates in the second unit better, and was able to replicate his success on the bench for the Pistons after returning from injury.
At 31 years old, Burks is a familiar face in the Knicks locker room and a fantastic veteran to help rally the second unit. The Detroit Pistons will have to make some decisions this summer about his future, whether it is trading him or allowing him to become a free agent, as the Pistons hold a team option in terms of his contract. It wouldn’t be surprising if they held onto Burks, especially since he would garner value in the trade market. If it’s youth or draft assets that Detroit is looking for, then it should be no problem for the Knicks to go out there and get Burks back.
It’s time to start thinking realistically about the near future. The Knicks have minimal cap space and it will be important to manage it as best as possible to put together the best team around Jalen Brunson. Overstepping the timeline could get things out of sorts, as history has shown for the Knicks between the 2013 and 2021 offseasons. Although we don’t see much of him from a media standpoint, the fans of New York have faith in Leon Rose, and it’ll be up to him to stay patient and continue to evolve this team.
»Read: New York’s future lies in Julius Randle and Tom Thibodeau
»Read: What the NBA Draft Lottery Means for the Knicks