The New York Knicks suffered initial disappointment on the opening day of free agency. While the Brooklyn Nets snagged both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, Knicks fans were flabbergasted. What was expected to bring the franchise back to its glory days, slipped away like a Thanos snap of the finger.
Luckily the Knicks did not fold and sign aging vets past their prime. Instead, they signed a slew of hard-working role players, while obtaining team options in the final year of those contracts.
Although they won’t be a title contender, anything can happen at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Coach David Fizdale will have a bunch of guys to work with and this will be a huge test for him. Acquisitions will continue in the offseason, but here’s an early look at the potential rotation:
PG: Dennis Smith Jr., Elfrid Payton
SG: R.J. Barrett, Allonzo Trier
SF: Kevin Knox, Reggie Bullock
PF: Julius Randle, Taj Gibson, Noah Vonleh
C: Mitchell Robinson, Bobby Portis
On first glance, the glaring omissions are Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay. Mudiay is an unrestricted free agent; and unless the Knicks prefer a logjam at guard, it’s likely they don’t re-sign him. Ntilikina, who spent much of last season hampered by injury, will once again be competing for minutes. His defensive awareness and capability have always stood out. Now it’s time to see if he’s taken the next step offensively.
Overall, the Knicks sport a young team that should be able to get up and down the floor. There are obvious defensive concerns, but Coach Fizdale will have to implement good schemes to keep everyone active.
Randle is coming off career bests in points per game (21.4), field goal attempts per game (14.9) and three-point percentage per game (34.4) as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans. He will look to continue some of that productivity with this team. Outside of Randle, the offense should be free-flowing with teammates getting each other involved. It’s imperative the young guys continue to get reps to prepare themselves for the future.
In order for this team to not be an embarrassment, they’re counting on Barrett to be productive while Knox and Mitchell improve from their rookie seasons. As a borderline League Pass team, the Knicks development will be a sight to see all season long.