Spoiler alert, I hate to say this but, we will most likey be about the same Knicks team as last year only with the star Kristaps Porzingis coming back from his ACL tear. And a solid rookie with the 9th pick in the draft assuming we don’t make any moves on draft day. With the way the Knicks contracts are setup, we are going to have around -500,000 in cap space (Assuming Enes Kanter picks up his 18 million player option, which is unlikely given his production last season). I think the Knicks should focus on the young players on the team while we wait for cap space to clear up next season. The younger players need to develop their skills, chemistry and game plan David Fizdale forms between him and the players. But what our active roster is doing this offseason is a different article for a different day. Today we will talk about what I believe the Knicks should do this offseason going from the draft on Thursday, June 21st to the free agency starting on July 1st.
Let’s start with the draft. The Knicks have the 9th pick this year and with a fairly strong rookie class featuring Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Luca Doncic, and many other solid rookies, the Knicks shouldn’t have a problem drafting a solid player. Aside from those first three players which are almost a lock to go in the top three, every other pick afterwards has changed from one mock draft to another. According to the Knicks it seems that their top prospect could be Trae Young a freshman out of Oklahoma who has drawn comparisons to Steph Curry. The front offices reasoning for Trae Young is that he would be a solid piece to go alongside Frank Ntilikina who is much more defensive minded than Trae. So, I can see the connection as to how it would work but I think we should give much more consideration to Mikal, or Miles Bridges or Michael Porter Jr. Michael Porter Jr. will most likely not fall to us due to his star potential but the reason he falls in the draft boards is because of his injury risk. Coming off a back surgery earlier this basketball season it has brought up some concerns of his durability on the court. But regardless of his health risks I think if he falls to the Knicks at number 9 we should absolutely take him. MPJ’s superstar potential is too strong to pass up on and I think we would really regret passing on him if given the opportunity. However, I do not think that the Knicks should trade up to get him, I think it would be illogical to trade away young assets, most likely Ntilikina, for a potentially injury-prone player. And Mikal Bridges, my top choice for the 9th pick, a junior out of Villanova who has increased his points, rebounds, and blocks all three seasons he was there. He is already established as a good athletic defender along with a solid three-point shooter at 43%, increasing all three years at Villanova. He seems very polished in his game and has said in an interview with the Knicks that he wants to prioritize winning over personal accolades, which is always nice to hear but we’ll have to see how he plays with others before I can really believe that. Miles Bridges, a sophomore out of Michigan State plays a lot like Mikal, plays good defense, can shoot the three consistently and very athletic. I like both of these players and see nothing wrong with taking either one of them in the draft.
Now, the 2018 free agency. This will be short because the Knicks are pretty restricted with their cap space. This year has got a pretty good group of players on the market with Paul George, Demarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant (declined player option), and Chris Paul. But due to the Knicks former President Phil Jackson signing Joakim Noah to a 4 year 72-million-dollar deal, there’s probably not much the Knicks could do to clear that contract without giving away a 1st rounder, a young player, or Kristaps (none of which I’m for). I really only seeing us being able to go after low cost veterans to help teach the young players, assuming we resign Enes Kanter. There are a few of them on the market that we could possibly sign if they don’t ring chase. Veterans like Vince Carter (8 mil. with Kings), Jamal Crawford (4.4 mil. with Timberwolves), and Jarrett Jack could be brought on for a one-year deal. And with the star studded free agency in the 2019 offseason it would be smart to save the money for then. Especially with the rumors of Kyrie coming to New York to play for Fizdale are going around more and more.
All in all, I think it’s going to be a rather exciting draft night but during free agency I am not expecting us to much in the likes of spending and big-name players. The Knicks need to relax and remember to stay patient, stick to the plan of growing from within. And I am confident that with our front office and coaching staff combined with our mostly young players we can begin to see improvements throughout the season both from an individual player perspective and a team play perspective.