NBA Free Agency: New York Knicks Preview
What Happened last season
Jeff Hornacek’s first season at the helm saw the Knicks finish with a 31-51 record, good for 12th in the Eastern Conference. Phil Jackson’s third year as team President was riddled in even more dysfunction as players fought against the triangle offense, Carmelo Anthony trade rumors continue to swirl, and the signing of one of the worst contracts in the NBA that brought Joakim Noah to New York.
The Knicks season was not all bad. Kristaps Porzingis continued to develop, showing flashes 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 PTS, 7 REB and shot 53% from the field in just 18.4 minutes. The Knicks may have found their front court for the next decade in this international duo.
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.
Upcoming Free Agents
PG Derrick Rose
SG Justin Holiday
SG Sasha Vujacic Restricted
PG Ron Baker Partially Guaranteed Contracts
PF Maurice N’dour
PG Chasson Randle C Marshall Plumlee
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 PTS and 3.6 AST 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 his sophomore season.
Maximum Cap Space*: $22,273,680
Projected Cap Space: $19,267,655
*If the Knicks renounce their rights to all restricted free agents and rid themselves of all partially guaranteed contracts
Potential Targets in Free Agency
PG Patty Mills The Knicks need an upgrade at point guard. Mills, who has spent the last 6 seasons as a Spur, provides instant offense and strong leadership traits. As a starter, Mills averaged 12.1 PTS and 5.9 AST in 28.3 minutes of action and shot the ball at a 40.4 percent clip. He’s used to a motion offense and should fit well in the triangle.
SG Ian Clark The Knicks could use depth in the backcourt and Clark, who is only 26 years of age, has the potential to develop his game further. Clark is a combo guard that can play both on and off the ball and has been a useful asset on the Warriors bench. Clark shot 37.4% from three last season and is another player that could thrive in the triangle.
SF PJ Tucker PJ Tucker is a true 3-and-D wing and the veteran 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, but Tucker is an immediate upgrade over the two and would provide a veteran presence in a locker room that sorely needs it.
PF Thomas Robinson Robinson is a high energy big man 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 and signing him is a low risk, high reward move.