What The Knicks should do in the NBA off-season


Jean Baptiste Bellet | Wikimedia Commons

Philip Watson

The New York Knicks had a monumental season this past year.  They made the playoffs in historical fashion, despite being a team that was projected to win 24.7 games this season, according to ESPN.

The Knicks decimated that projection by winning 41 games, and in the process netted  Coach Tom Thibodeau, the 2021 Coach of the Year. It is well deserved as the Knicks blew away the basketball world’s expectations of them.

Under new General Manager Leon Rose, the Knicks functioned like a well-oiled machine, notably without spending  over the salary cap. This was due to an improved front office that put winning before earning.

On top of the vastly improved front office, the Knicks  had a dynamite season with Julius Randle, who not only won Most Improved Player of the year award, but finished with an average of 24.1 points per game, 10.2 rebounds per game and 6 assists per game, according to ESPN.

On the backs of  two of the top players in the NBA in minutes per game, Randle and RJ Barrett led the team through their remarkable season. Former MVP Derrick Rose, who showed the most life in the postseason for the Knicks, averaged 19.4 points per game in a playoff the Knicks had no business making, according to ESPN.

Now, however, all attention turns to the off-season, where the Knicks will look to build upon their success from the 2019-20 season.

With the highest salary cap in the NBA, spending  won’t be an issue for the Knicks , even though New York  is notorious for toxic  front office culture.

With a whole league worth of talent in the potential free agent pool this off-season these are some moves the Knicks could do :

  1. Pursue Kawhi Leonard. Kawhi Leonard is an absolute superstar player that does it all on the court. With the need for leadership on the Knicks,  Leonard should be the highest sought free agent this off-season. The Knicks have nothing to lose by throwing everything they’ve got at Leonard in hopes to drag him away from the Los Angeles Clippers. He’s a playoff stud, and could be the golden ticket the Knicks need to be in serious contention.
  2. Extend Julius Randle’s contract: Julius Randle was an absolute stud for The Knicks this season. As the reigning MIP award winner, re-signing Randle should be an absolute no-brainer here. However, Randle’s current contract with the Knicks  comes to a close next  off-season, where he would become an unrestricted free agent. If the Knicks want to gamble on Randle, they could choose to see how he does this season. He could hit unrestricted free agency in 2022,which could set him up for a massive payday, with The Knicks or elsewhere. Extending Randle’s contract should be a top priority, there’s a chance he could regress, but it’s worth locking down a playmaker who actually wants to be a part of the organization.
  3. Resign Derrick Rose. Without a proper field general, the Knicks looked notably lost in the postseason. Randle struggled and forced missed field goals on double teams with the highest turnover rate in the postseason for the Knicks. Overall, the Knicks truly could not get it going on offense. That is except for Rose, who provided 19.8 points per game  and shot 48% from the field in the playoffs. Derrick Rose is an unrestricted free agent and could possibly be signed at a discount, which is well worth the value he provides.
  4. Trade for Damian Lillard. Damian Lillard is one of the best players in the NBA. His stat line is ridiculous, posting 8 PPG and 7.5 AST, he is one of the most effective scoring guards in the league. With playmaking ability to ice a game and  buzzer beating shots, the ability to take control of a game at anytime makes him a great decision. However, a player of Lillard’s magnitude demands a massive haul. If a trade for Lillard demands the cost of the Anthony Davis deal between the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans, maybe it would be better to look elsewhere.

The Knicks also have  two first round picks in the 2021 NBA Draft,  which could be used to trade up in the draft. The amount of young talent this Knicks team has does not require four draft picks this off-season.

Trading up in the draft for a better potential pick is an option the Knicks should be willing to explore, and the potential to trade for another dynamic star now is a definite possibility.

The Knicks have shown fans something that has not been experienced in a near decade: hope.

This team has potential, and with the proper moves, the Knicks can contend and ascend even higher.