A brief analysis of the what the Knicks may be interested in doing this upcoming off season. A successful off-season is necessary as this will be Phil Jackson’s fourth as team president.
What Happened last season:
The Knicks finished 31-51 good for 12th in the Eastern Conference in Jeff Hornacek’s first season at the helm. Phil Jackson’s third year as team President led to more dysfunction after disagreements with players about wanting to run the triangle offense, Carmelo Anthony trade rumors being discussed, a failed experiment with Derrick Rose running the point and possibly one of the worst contracts in the NBA in Joakim Noah being handed out.
The Knicks season was not all dismal. Kristaps Porzingis continued his development showing signs of all star potential. Willy Hernangomez looks to be solid piece going forward as the Knicks rebuild. The 35th pick from the 2015 draft averaged 8.2 ppg, 7 rpg and shot 53% from the field in just 18.4 minutes of game action. Hernangomez made 22 starts and was named as a first team all rookie. The Knicks may have found their front court for the next decade in Porzingis and Hernangomez.
Carmelo Anthony made his eighth consecutive all star game and averaged 22.4 points per game. Anthony has been relatively healthy the last two season appearing in 72 and 74 games.
Courtney Lee provided solid production at the shooting guard position posting a career high in assists and hitting 40.1% of his three point attempts. Lee can be used as a valuable player going into next season or as a trade asset in the offseason.
Ron Baker, an undrafted free agent provided valuable minutes towards the end of the season and became a fan favorite. Phil Jackson praised his defensive effort and decision making ability but noted Baker needs to improve his shooting during the exit interviews at the end of the year.
The Knicks were a terrible road team and their poor play on the road doomed the year. The Knicks finished 12-29 away from Madison Square Garden. This can be pointed to lack of team chemistry or uncertainty in the team offense. The Knicks finished 19-22 in their own building.
Players under contract for next season:
Point Guards: None
Shooting Guards: Courtney Lee
Small Forwards: Carmelo Anthony, Lance Thomas, Mindaugas Kuzminskas
Power Forwards: Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle O’Quinn
Centers: Willy Hernangomez, Joakim Noah
8th overall (own)
44th overall via Bulls
58th overall via Rockets
Upcoming Free Agents:
Unrestricted : PG – Derrick Rose
SG – Justin Holiday
SG: – Sasha Vujacic
PG – Ron Baker
Partially guaranteed contracts: PF – Maurice N’dour
C – Marshall Plumlee
PG – Chasson Randle
Maximum cap space: $22,273,680 (If the Knicks renounce their rights to all restricted free agents and rid themselves of partially guaranteed contracts)
Projected cap space: $19,267,655
Ron Baker – Baker drew high praise from the coaching staff in the exit interviews and is a young asset that can develop into a better player in year two. The Knicks can sign Baker as a cheap option to add depth to the roster. Baker made 13 starts averaging 6.2 points and 3.6 assists per game in 28 minutes of action. Baker won’t be a guy to light it up on a daily basis but provides toughness and a defensive first mind set the Knicks need. Expect Baker to improve his three point shooting in year two.
Potential Free Agent Targets:
PG – Patty Mills – The Knicks need upgrades at the point guard position. Mills, who has spent the last 6 seasons as a Spurs back-up, provides instant offense and strong leadership traits. Mills was the captain of Team Australia for the Olympics. Mills averaged 12.1 ppg and 5.9 apg in 28.3 minutes of action and shot the ball at a 40.4 percent clip. He’s used to motion offense and should fit well in the triangle.
PG – Trey Burke – Burke is another young guard the Knicks may be able to acquire at a reasonable rate. Burke is a former lottery pick that can provide three point shooting to the Knicks bench. Burke shot 44.3% (31-for-70) from three with the Wizards last season.
SG – Ian Clark – The Knicks could use depth in the backcourt and Clark is still 26 years of age and could develop his game further. Clark is a combo guard that can handle the ball and has been a useful asset on the Warriors bench. Clark shot 37.4% from three. Clark is another player used to a motion offense and could thrive in the triangle.
SF – P.J Tucker – PJ Tucker is a true three and D wing. The veteran small forward could provide excellent depth to the Knicks bench behind Carmelo Anthony. Last season, the Knicks relied on Lance Thomas and Mindaugas Kuzminskas as their wing depth. Tucker is an immediate upgrade over the those two and will provide a good veteran presence in the locker room. Tucker has had experience playing under head coach Jeff Hornacek in Phoenix.
PF – Thomas Robinson – High energy big whose per 36 minute numbers are off the charts. Robinson is a terrific rebounder and at 26 still has potential upside. Robinson projects as a guy that will produce better numbers with more minutes. A low risk – high reward move. .
PF – Willie Reed – Another big that has shown high upside in limited minutes over the past two seasons. Reed averaged 5.3 ppg, 4.9 rbg and nearly a block per game in just 14.5 minutes of action. Reed may be able to provide insurance and needed athleticism to the front court. At 27, he’s another player who may grow his game further.