The offseason is full of decisions. From draft picks to summer league, to new acquisitions and making decisions on players on the current roster. I will break down the team by position over the course of the next three weeks starting with guards followed by forwards and finally center and the draft.
Offseason Adjustments- Guards
A lot of changes will most likely take place in this pivotal position. The point guard is the most integral part of a team, it’s up to the point guard to take the coach’s gameplan, put it into effect and facilitate the offense. At shooting guard changes are imminent as we saw in the playoffs how we were exposed at this position.
Current Point Guards
Currently, we have six point guards. For most of the year, we started Elfrid Payton and benched him in favor of Derrick Rose. Rose is a great player albeit his age and injury history. Rose will be instrumental in working with our younger players. Immanuel Quickley was a great addition but, it’s still up for debate if he has the skills to facilitate at the NBA level. In 64 games, Quickley averaged a meager two assists per game. Luca Vildoza hailing from Argentina bolsters a strong resume. He received high praise from NBA legend Kobe Bryant and former Knick Pablo Prigioni. The jury’s still out on what kind of player he will be in the NBA. However, if one were to judge based on what he did overseas, I would say it’s possible the Knicks found a diamond in the rough. They will likely not retain Harper, Payton, or Ntilikina.
Current Shooting Guards
Currently, the Knicks have been navigating the shooting guard position with veteran journeymen Reggie Bullock and Alec Burks. Bullock, who has gone from a journeyman to a starter overnight played the quintessential three and D role. He showed a lot of grit and tenacity on both ends of the floor but disappeared in the playoffs. The problem with Bullock is his offensive game is lacking beyond sinking the three-ball and he got exposed in the playoffs. Bullock was unable to defend Trae Young and crumbled on the offensive end of the floor against the Hawks.
Burks was efficient in the playoffs and was one of the few bright spots on this team. Burks showed leadership and did not cower from the spotlight when he needed to hit a big shot to keep us in games. Down the stretch, he showed, again and again, he is a guy who can hit crucial shots. Bullock is retained only if a more lucrative target is not acquired and Burks will be retained if the price is right. Both are unrestricted free agents.
Offseason Big Name Targets
Offseason Acquisitions- Chris Paul
The offseason bolsters a litany of guards that could potentially change the landscape of our team if we’re able to sign them. Some of the bigger names would be costly and potentially not worth the assets or long-term setbacks. If we were to sign Chris Paul, it would be risky, given his age and injury history, coupled with his price he would not be a worthwhile target. However, if bringing him in meant a bigger target would come on board, I would consider it. Odds of landing Paul: 3/10.
Bradley Beal is an interesting target, he expressed interest in wanting to leave Washington and is still under contract for the next two years. At 27 years old he is still young enough to be an impact player on a contender. My only issue here is what assets will Washington want in return? I do not want to see our team subjected to the second coming of the Carmelo Anthony deal. If the deal is reasonable, I would entertain adding Beal, but I am certain Washington will want a core piece in return for a player of Beals’ caliber. Odds of landing Beal: 5/10.
Damian Lillard is rumored to be moved with the departure of coach Terry Stotts, he will likely consider his options. This is another scenario where the Knicks would purge their roster of assets and cap space to take on Lillard. Lillard who just turned 30 bolsters a 20-35 record in the playoffs. Call me crazy, but I am going to pass on giving up draft picks and mortgaging our future for Lillard. Although I realize Lillard is an All-star talent, someone else can overpay the Blazers for his services. Odds of landing Lillard: 4/10.
Finally, there is Zach LaVine, my favorite target of this group. Although it is doubtful Chicago would be willing to move on from their superstar in the making, anything is possible. At 26 years of age, LaVine is entering his prime and seems to improve every year he is in the league. Lavine becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2022 so Chicago may be anticipating his departure. Rumor has it he plans on rejecting the extension they plan to offer him this offseason. With the right combination of picks and contracts, perhaps we can persuade Chicago to part ways with LaVine. Odds of landing LaVine: 5/10.
Realistic Offseason Targets
Offseason Acquisitions- Lonzo Ball
There are a lot of names out there that the Knicks organization would be thrilled to add to their roster. My personal favorite target out of the many guards out there is Lonzo Ball. Ball, who is only 23 years old already has a rapport with Knicks forward Julius Randle from their times in Los Angeles and New Orleans. Ball, once looked at as something of a disappointment, quietly had a strong year for the Pelicans. In 55 games Ball averaged 14.6 points per game, 5.7 assists per game, and 3.1 three-pointers made. Most importantly, he improved at the line considerably to 78% and brought his three-point percentage to 38%. Ball still has room for improvement but could be a guy we could lock up and is known for his defense, Ball was ranked first in defensive assignments in 2021 during the regular season. Odds of landing Ball: 7/10.
Another interesting target is Kyle Lowry. Although Lowry has a shaky injury history, he brings a championship pedigree to the table and could be the player we could bring in who could lead us to sign Kawhi Leonard. Leonard and Lowry were teammates on the Raptors championship team and could potentially rekindle that magic in New York. If surrounded by a younger cast and some free agents, Lowry could be the razor’s edge to get us to the next level. He is a calculated risk though because of his health. Odds of landing Lowry: 6.5/10.
Another target who could be a nice addition if we fail to land Lowry or Ball is a guy like Davonte‘ Graham, although he is a restricted free agent, Charlotte is no longer in need of his services with the addition of their new star LaMelo Ball. Perhaps, the Knicks could acquire Graham for the right price. In 2019 Graham averaged almost eight assists per game when he was averaging 35 minutes per night. Graham, typically known as a shoot-first guard has a friendly salary through 2022 and could be a worthwhile acquisition. Odds of landing Graham: 6.5/10.
A lesser-known target and more of a consolation signing if we fail to land any of the other free agents is a guy like T.J. McConnell. McConnell, a gritty point guard known for his playmaking and robust defense would be an excellent addition to the Knicks roster. He brings energy and scoring off the bench and would be a strong plug-in starter if we were to acquire a guy like Lowry and Vildoza does not pan out. Odds of landing McConnell: 7/10.
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