Free agent Damyean Dotson should be prioritized by the Knicks, who have confoundedly thrown the smooth 3-and-D swingman out of the rotation.
Damyean Dotson should be among the most prioritized free agents the New York Knicks will have this offseason (whenever that is). The 6-foot-5 shooting guard has proven to be a productive player, but he hasn’t been shown much love from Knicks brass. He’s a capable shooter and defender on a team that lacks both, yet the team doesn’t seem to have a real role for him anymore.
New York would be smart to bring Dotson back. Of course, that’s assuming Dotson even wants to return to the Knicks. Impending free-agency decisions are probably not the main priority for players right now as the remainder of the 2019–20 season is up in the air due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the Knicks haven’t given him many reasons to stay.
The front office recently underwent a second makeover in three years since Dotson was drafted in 2017, and the coaching carousel has spat out three coaches in three seasons. Three years into his career, Dotson hardly knows what it’s like to be on a decent NBA team. The first team he played on—the 2017–18 Knicks squad—posted a record of 18-18 before falling apart, a fate sealed with an ACL tear to its star, Kristaps Porzingis. The team went 11-35 after its promising start, finishing with the ninth-worst record in the league.
The two squads after that season insulted the game of basketball, stockpiling losses and lacking an on-court identity. In the 2019–20 season, Dotson bounced in and out of the rotation despite being healthy. Aside from rookie Ignas Brazdeikis, who spent a majority of this season in the G League, Dotson was the only player on the 15-man roster to not start a single game. He appeared in just four of the Knicks’ 14 games before the league’s COVID-19-caused suspension.
After three years of losing and embarrassment, there doesn’t seem like much of an incentive for Dotson to remain with the Knicks. Why would he remain with a bad team that plays him sparingly?
One answer is if New York offers him a lucrative contract. However, the Knicks just showed Dotson they don’t have a strong interest in him, cutting his playing time from the 2018–19 season by roughly 10 minutes per game. This move is confounding considering Dotson’s shooting abilities.
Dotson is one of the best shooters the Knicks have to offer, shooting 36.2% from deep and attempting 56.2% of his field goals from the perimeter this season. Only Marcus Morris, who shot an absurd 43.9% from beyond the arc, had a better three-point percentage than Dotson. And only Wayne Ellington, whose three-point attempts account for 82.2% of his shots, recorded a higher share of his shots from deep than Dotson. In addition to shooting, Dotson has shown some solid shot creation and defensive capabilities.
DOT PULL-UP JIMBO FROM DEEP pic.twitter.com/YND6ykAyFe
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 14, 2019
For a team built around two slashers in R.J. Barrett and Julius Randle and a rim-running center in Mitchell Robinson, utilizing strong shooters like Dotson should be a priority to maximize the offense’s capabilities. The Knicks, however, seem to rebel against modern basketball. In the 2019–20 season, the team ranks 27th in three-point percentage, 29th in the league in three-point attempts per game, and dead last in made three-pointers per game.
When you piece together the whole puzzle, Dotson returning to the Knicks doesn’t seem likely, even though his play style is beneficial to the team. Hopefully, new Knicks President of Basketball Operations Leon Rose sees Dotson’s value and tries to keep him aboard.
If Dotson does want to remain a Knick, what should his contract look like?
Ideally, it would be for two or three guaranteed years at around $10 million per year. Dotson will turn 26 years old in early May, entering the typical prime of a player’s career. Such a contract would put him in the company of other young guards and wings close to his age and talent level such as Josh Richardson, Norman Powell, Tomas Satoransky, and Jeremy Lamb. All those players had clearly better statistical seasons than Dotson in 2019–20, but then again, none of them had to deal with being on the Knicks.
Even if New York really doesn’t want Dotson in the orange and blue anymore, signing him gives the front office the ability to trade him rather than lose him for nothing. A contract with two or three years is the best amount of time for a contract. Signing him to just one year may not be enough for an interested team to send something valuable at the deadline; signing him for four years could be too big of a commitment for interested teams.
Still, Dotson should be brought back for the purpose of playing with the young building blocks of the Knicks’ future. With New York focused on building around Barrett and Robinson, floor spacers will be key to maximizing their talents. According to NBA.com, Dotson is shooting 38.9% on catch-and-shoot triples. The league average is 37%.
Team is ice cold but Dot is not!
5th 3 of the night for Dotson. pic.twitter.com/3Zu0cQFYnG
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 23, 2020
Dotson just the type of supporting player the Knicks should look for as they rebuild. Unfortunately, due to New York’s own incompetence, Dotson himself might not be a target in this search.