For the first time in EIGHT years, the New York Knicks managed to qualify for the NBA Playoffs, while their dream may have come to a short end after they suffered an opening round loss. Things are however on an upward trend, despite them having come up short, with the potential to enter the offseason with plenty of space on the salary cap, meaning WAY bigger things could be on the horizon for the New York based franchise. With that the focus now shifts towards the 2021 offseason, so it’s time for us to take a look at where the Knicks stand. Let’s get into it.
So, where do we begin? First is the NBA’s Most-Improved Player of this season, Julius Randle has a partial guarantee of $4.0 Million for the 2021-22 season and as much as he struggled in the playoffs, the Knicks guaranteeing the entirety of his $21.8 million salary for the upcoming season feels like a pretty safe bet, considering he had a really solid season. Not only that but the Knicks may be set to lose a fair few players, leaving them with quite a lot of roster spots to fill.
Almost certainly the most notable would be Derrick Rose, the Knicks acquired him in the lead up to the trade deadline of this season. He played 35 games this season, in those 35 games D.Rose averaged 4.2 assists and 14.9 points on .487/.411/.883 shooting splits. This man earned enough votes for him to finish in THIRD PLACE in the voting for Sixth Man of the Year, sitting just behind Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson who both play for the Utah Jazz.
Not only that however, Alec Burks, Elfrid Payton, Reggie Bullock, Taj Gibson and Nerlens Noel are going to be unrestricted free agents, alongside that, Theo Pinson, Jared Harper and Frank Ntilikina will all be Restricted Free Agents while there’s a team option worth $1.8 million on the contract of Mitchell Robinson.
One thing that the Knicks need to do now they managed to push into the playoffs, even if they didn’t make it deep, is to manage their expectations. There isn’t a single team in the NBA this season that has outperformed their expectations more than the New York Knicks, nobody expected anything from the Knicks. They were predicted to win “24.7 games” which would’ve put them with the 3rd worst record in the NBA. Instead, they went on to win 41 games pushing them into the playoffs for the first time since 2013!
The work that the Knicks have put in this season has not gone unnoticed. In the most recent edition of ESPN’s Future Power Rankings, New York jumped from Number 27 last March to Number 7.
An improvement of 22 wins isn’t the result of just taking one quick year of spending like crazy in free agency, making panicked trades hoping for a quick patch up. What they did was acquire the correct coach for their project in Tom Thibodeau, they then worked hard to pick and choose the right talent that would also fit in with their project. The result? New York now has a blueprint to use as the people in charge build their roster, not only for the upcoming offseason, but for the future of the franchise in general.
So, what are the steps they should be taking for the upcoming offseason? There are a few things they could do, they could go ahead and try to build through the draft, they can push development on the inside and re-sign some of their key free agents, such as Alec Burks and Derrick Rose. They could try and land one big-name free agent to try and build their system around, since they may have up to $50 million in salary cap space, though this would definitely be at the cost of their own free agents. Or they could make a big trade using draft picks and young players combined with their cap space.
Realistically what the team currently needs is a starting point guard and a starting short forward, they also realistically need some depth to manage the quick turnaround in games that the NBA has, in almost every position but power forward. They have the following they can use to rebuild;
- Potentially $50 million in cap space
- Two first round picks and a second round pick in the draft.
- Draft assets for 2023
- $4.9 million cap room around their midlevel in exceptions
- $5.8 million in cash to send or receive in a trade.
What do you think? What would you do with the resources they have available? Where do you think the Knicks will end up next season? I think there are many Pennsylvania betting sites that are tipping them for a playoff place again, but they have a lot of work to do to ensure they make the playoffs back to back, would you agree? Let us know!