The Knicks were dreaming big coming into the offseason.
New York moved Kristaps Porzingis at the trade deadline to open up 2 max salary slots, and everyone assumed they were big game hunting. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant were the favorites to join the Knicks, but they spurned the team to join the Brooklyn Nets. They were also listed among the teams Anthony Davis was open to joining, but he wound up on the Lakers. They were never in the running for Kawhi Leonard.
Instead, the Knicks wound up signing Taj Gibson, Julius Randell, Marcus Morris, Wayne Ellington, Reggie Bullock, and Elfrid Payton. Any of these signing would have been very solid for a team that was close to competing, but the Knicks are not one of those teams. By doing this, they have created a major log jam at the 4 position with a bunch of nice role players who will not move the needle enough to compete, but just enough to keep them from securing good odds at the number one pick.
On the bright side, it was smart of New York to sign these deals at only one or two years, maintaining flexibility to chase a max salary player. Also, if any of these players wind up outplaying their contracts, the Knicks could always trade them to acquire more assets. Overall, it's not the worst use of their cap space, but considering who they thought was coming, it's a tough pill to swallow.
The draft was a solid start towards building for the future for the Knicks. At number 3 overall, they selected Duke forward RJ Barrett. The Canadien prospect was considered to be the best college player coming into the season and the sure fire number 1 pick. Well, as you know, Barrett’s teammate lit it up at Duke, and a relatively unknown player from a mid-major blew up, allowing the Knicks to grab a number 1 talent at number 3. While he will need to work on his shot selection, particularly from deep, Barrett has the tools to come in as a top scoring option right away. It often gets overlooked, but Barrett is also very good at creating opportunities for his teammates, and he should elevate the floor for this rag tag bunch.
At number 47, the Knicks selected Ignas Brazdeikis out of Michigan. He was a legit scoring threat in college as a big man, averaging just under 15 PPG with 5.4 RPG. There is a bit of a log jam in the current big man group for the Knicks, so I would guess Brazdeikis starts in the G league, but don't be surprised if he winds up contributing this year.
Offseason Grade: C- | Predicted Eastern Conference Ranking: 12
The Knicks will be much improved from last year when they were arguably the worst team in the league, but they won’t be good enough to qualify for postseason play. While the moves they made were solid on paper, when you sell your team on acquiring one or two of the biggest stars in the game and fail, people are going to be pissed. Even further, when you trade your best player to create the opportunity to sign a top flight player and fail, people are going to be very pissed.
At least the Knicks came away from the draft with a star-in-waiting in RJ Barrett, or this offseason would have been a disaster for New York. I feel for you Knicks fans, but for the first time in a while, at least maybe you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Graduate of Loyola Maryland and die hard Boston sports fan. "I rub it in pretty good when I win" - Tom Brady