How Ron Baker Fits in NY
The New York Knicks drafted their point guard of the future with the 8th pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. Barring a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving, which appears unlikely, the Knicks will be relying on the 19 year old rookie out of the French LNB Pro A league, Frank Ntilikina.
Ntilikina won't be handed the starting role just yet though. The Knicks plan on easing Ntilikina into Jeff Hornacek's offense. Until then the team will turn to Ramon Sessions.
Sessions is a ten year veteran in the league who will be playing for his ninth franchise. The 31-year-old figures to be the team's starting floor general to start the season but his main role will be to mentor Ntilikina.
The Sessions signing makes sense on a couple of levels. He is a reliable, if unspectacular option for a rebuilding team. What doesn't make sense in retrospect following his signing was giving Ron Baker a contract close to $5 million to be the third string point guard.
As the roster stands, Baker is a third string guard. Sessions and Ntilikina are ahead of him at point guard on the depth chart while Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee are both ahead of him at the shooting guard spot.
Baker's was the first contract handed out by New York at the beginning of free agency. He confirmed his return to the Knicks minutes after free agency began on July 1st. It is clear the Knicks had them in their plans for this coming season--and beyond--after handing him a two year deal worth close to $9 million.
What is their plan exactly?
Baker played hard in his first season in New York. He went from undrafted to starting for the Knicks in less than a year. While that may have been a product of an injury to Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings flat-out wanting no part of the Knicks, Baker was starting games towards the end of last season.
He wasn't that impressive though. His 3-point shooting was below average, as he shot just 27 percent on more than one attempt per game. His stat line of four points, two assists and two rebounds was nothing to write home about. The team was actually better when he was off the floor.
So why was he given the entire room exception? And a second year player option to boot?
The easy answer is that this is the Knicks we are talking about. Almost no transaction they are a part of makes complete sense in a nutshell. The team almost traded Kristaps Porzingis because of a missed exit interview.
The puzzling thing is Baker may just be collecting over $4 million the next two seasons to rarely play. If there are no injuries in their guard rotation, Baker is at best an injury replacement. At worst, he will be outperformed by Damyean Dotson, who was the Knicks only impressive prospect in Summer League.
Either way, Baker's role is undefined. Hornacek may be able to get some good mileage out of him if given the chance. The Knicks are still behind the 8-ball though, as Baker is no match for any of the league's elite point guards.
At least Baker is a good locker room presence. It won't be a situation of the team paying top dollar for a locker room distraction.
The Baker signing was certainly nothing new to Knicks fans but it could always be worse in New York.