While the 2021-2022 New York Knicks were not quite the unmitigated disaster that was the Los Angeles Lakers, they were close. After an improbable run to the fourth seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference last season, the team followed that up with the total opposite.
In an era where 10 teams in each conference can have the opportunity to compete in the playoffs, the Knicks finished eleventh and were six games out of the final play-in spot. Julius Randle went from being an MVP candidate to not even making the All-Star game. Derrick Rose missed most of the season. Mitchell Robinson didn’t take a big leap forward in his development, and the additions of veteran guards Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier ended up being more a detriment than a benefit.
However, there were some bright spots. Immanuel Quickly showed moderate improvement. Obi Toppin had a stellar finish to the season and made the idea of a Randle trade more plausible. Not to mention, RJ Barrett stamped his place as a 20-points per game scorer and a player with every year All-Star potential.
Now with the season over, the team has some things to do to turn it all around and get back to the NBA playoffs in 2022-2023. Here are four moves the New York Knicks need to make this offseason.
New York Knicks must upgrade PG via free agency or trade
It is pretty ridiculous that the Knicks haven’t had an All-Star level point guard that’s brought them consistent success since Walt “Clyde” Frazier over 40 years ago. That is not to say they didn’t have chances in players like Mark Jackson, Stephon Marbury, or Chauncy Billups, but that was either short-lived or wholly disappointing. They had more of that this season in the debacle that was the Kemba Walker situation.
This team needs to find the kind of PG that is needed to win in today’s NBA. Derrick Rose is too old to rely on and Quickley is still a project. Rumors are the team will make Mavericks PG Jalen Brunson a “top target” in the offseason. However, is Brunson the real deal, or more like Reggie Jackson and Eric Bledsoe? A potential rich player who peaked just in time for free agency.
- Jalen Brunson stats (2021): 16.3 PPG, 3.9 REB, 4.8 AST
If Brunson isn’t the answer the team should ponder a one-year flier on Russell Westbrook or John Wall. Or, use their first-round pick this year, one from next year, and a bunch of second-round selections to entice the Utah Jazz and steal away a possibly unhappy Donovan Mitchell.
Gauge the market for a Julius Randle trade
Julis Randle is a good player. He has 20 points and 10 rebound potential every night. But usually on bad teams. Unfortunately, last season was an outlier and Randle got back to his usual inconsistent habits and proved he is not a 1 or 1A player on a contender. And that is fine, but he does have value and the Knicks need to see what the market is for it.
Of course, his value is not as high as it was last season, but he is still a very good player to have. He makes some serious money over the next four years, but in today’s market, his contract is far more reasonable than Westbrook’s and Wall’s in making over $40 million next season. If they move Randle, it will allow Toppin to start, and if they can get a return that fills certain needs then it might be in the best interest of all involved.
Make a play for Pacers center Myles Turner
Myles Turner is a talent the team’s executives have coveted for several years. Since the Knicks could not come to terms on a contract extension with soon-to-be free-agent Mitchell Robinson, now may be the time to push for that Turner deal. He only has one year left on his contract and the Indiana Pacers are likely more receptive than ever.
While Turner has not reached the potential the Pacers saw in him when they gave him a four-year $80 million deal, he seems like a perfect fit for what coach Tom Thibodeau envisions for the five-spot on his teams. Not to mention he would be an upgrade over the likes of Robinson, Nerlens Noel, and Jericho Sims.
Clear out cap space by moving Kemba Walker, Nerlen Noel, and/or Alec Burks
Walker is guaranteed to be traded this offseason. That has already been agreed to. However, the team should think about moving Noel, and six-man Alec Burks. Noel and Burks were re-signed after being key contributors to the team’s playoff run. However, Noel proved that he is very much a big-man version of Rose and can be hard to rely on night in and night out. While Burks wasn’t as effective in his second season with the team.
However, both are worthwhile bench contributors for any team and have fair contracts that both have team options after next season. They might be perfect candidates for trade deadline deals next season, but why wait until then? Free up the cap space now, add more draft capital if possible, and broaden the transaction horizons this summer.