The NBA offseason is here and FortyEightMinutes is examining the key questions for each team heading into the big night. Today, we’ll take a look at the New York Knicks.
1. Who can the Knicks add to take the next step?
This will be a big offseason for the Knicks. New York shocked a lot of people this past season. But with them making the postseason you now have to hold them to that standard in the future. And the fans, media, and other personnel around the league will do that. So now it’s time for the Knicks to focus on how they can take that next step going from a competitive playoff team to a contending team in the Eastern Conference. For them to do that the Knicks will need to look to make additions via trade or through free agency to improve their roster.
Trade Options: Damian Lillard will be a name the Knicks continue to monitor and may even shoot the Blazers a few trade packages but don’t expect the Blazers to move Lillard unless he himself demands a trade. The most realistic option and who the Knicks have expressed interest in is Bradley Beal. Rumors have circulated about the Wizards considering moving the All-Star guard but a lot will ride on if they decide to keep Westbrook. There’s still a chance the Wizards keep a similar team to last year and try to run it back but if they decide to blow it up and head in a different direction the Knicks would be in a great position to add Beal knowing all the young talent and draft picks they have to offer.
Free Agency: Some of the free agents the Knicks could look to add start with point guard Lonzo Ball. Note he is a restricted free agent so the Pelicans can match any offer the Knicks may give him. Though Ball would fit well with the young team the Knicks have been building. Norman Powell is another player the Knicks may look to add through free agency. Powell is an above-average two-way player who can provide scoring in a starting role or off the bench. Powell has had great success with his time in Toronto and Portland after being traded there this past year. Lastly, Dennis Schroder is someone the Knicks could look to go after. Schroder will be more of an option if the Knicks can’t land any All-Star’s through trade but adding Schroder would still be a great addition to the team and make them increasingly better.
2. Does Derrick Rose deserve a long-term deal?
Rose has expressed his interest in returning to New York this summer and after how much Rose contributed this season, especially in the postseason having his veteran presence you could tell made the Knicks a better team. Knicks shouldn’t think twice about re-signing Derrick Rose. he fits perfectly in Thibodeau’s scheme and the fans and his teammates have a great deal of love and respect for him. It doesn’t have to be a max contract but locking up Rose on a long-term deal would be a great move for the Knicks to make this off-season and should be one of their top priorities.
This one will be interesting to see what the Knicks decide to do here. If you watched Knicks basketball you saw that Elfrid Payton was a very useful and productive player during the regular season for the Knicks. Although once they transitioned to Derrick Rose as the starter you saw Payton’s minutes decrease at a large margin and the Knicks still didn’t miss a beat. If anything they were playing even better basketball. So what this means is that he’s replaceable. With Quickley and two mid-first round draft picks it will probably be best for Payton and the Knicks to part ways this off-season but if the Knicks strike out on re-signing Rose, and can’t land any of their prioritized free-agent targets then you could see a reunion between the two. As for Nerlans Noel, A lot will be dependant on the health of Mitchell Robinson but assuming he’ll be fully healthy by the start of the season means Noel would be a guy who moves back to the bench. If they can get him on a team-friendly deal they very well could re-sign him because when filling in for Robinson his defensive presence and shot-blocking ability never went unnoticed. Also, they could find his replacement in the NBA Draft.
4. Can Julius Randle be the best player on a championship team?
There is no question Julius Randle had a terrific year and was very deserving for the awards he won and the level of praise he received. But when you break down this Knicks roster and you look at how much star power it takes to win a championship in today’s league there are questions if the Knicks have enough. Randle averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game in the regular season. But in the postseason in each game against the Hawks, the Knicks plus/minus was in the negatives when Randle was on the floor and his efficiency dropped quite a bit. It was his first playoff series as a player but it could be smart for the Knicks to really look to add another all-star like a Bradley Beal or Damian Lillard alongside Randle. A lot more will be figured out in the near future as we continue to see this Knicks team develops and grow as a whole unit and we can see how Randle progresses after a remarkable season.
5. How can the Knicks improve through the NBA Draft?
Currently, the Knicks hold four picks in this year’s NBA Draft. None are placed in the lottery but the Knicks have a chance to add talent to complement Randle and RJ Barrett. With the Knicks showing interest in Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, and another potential All-Star level talent some of these picks could be involved in a package that is offered to these teams in a trade. But let’s break down some options for the Knicks in the draft.
Round 1: No. 19, No.21: The Knicks will look to add a guard considering Payton, Rose, and Ntlikina are all entering free agency Josh Christopher would be an ideal pick for the Knicks if he can fall to N0.19. The shooting guard from Arizona State. Christopher was a High School phenom and fan favorite and even though ASU underachieved this past season Christopher did not. The Knicks and Derrick Rose have mutual interests and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to add a player that can develop behind him. So another intriguing prospect is Tre Mann point guard from Florida. Mann really got noticed once the NCAA Tournament came around but was Florida’s best overall player last season. He has a range of skills and could provide a nice offensive spark off the bench. Now if the Knicks decide to draft a center which they could with Noel being a free agent a key prospect is Charles Bassey from Western Kentucky who was a double-double machine last season and would add a lot of production behind Mitchell Robinson coming off of the bench.
Round 2: No.32, No.58: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl would be a great fit at No.32 for the Knicks. Robinson-Earl impressed many last season playing for Villanova averaging 12.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Robinson can play the small forward and the power forward position which gives him the ability to really stretch the floor. At No.58, John Petty, who is a shooting guard from Alabama, would be a great pick for the Knicks. Petty may not slip this far but the second round is usually very unpredictable. Petty is extremely athletic and averaged 12.8 points per game last season for the Crimson Tide who had one of the best seasons in the history of their program.