The New York Knicks doubling down on their 2020-21 core has backfired horribly. They nabbed Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier in free agency and brought back their key bench pieces in the hopes that it would work out. Now, Walker is away from the team and those three reserves they brought back have been disappointing. At least Fournier set the franchise record for most triples in a season.
The stubborn refusal to mix things up from head coach Tom Thibodeau and the front office has put the Knicks on a miserable path. They are already eliminated from the playoffs. Falling so short of their preseason expectations is a sign that they have to remake some of New York’s roster.
The Knicks front office has to admit its failure and move on from some of its veterans this offseason.
3 players Knicks must trade in 2022 NBA offseason
3. Nerlens Noel
Noel was one of many pleasant surprises on last year’s Knicks team. He stepped up in a huge way while Mitchell Robinson dealt with numerous injuries and earned All-Defensive Team votes in the process.
This season, though, has been an entirely different story. Noel is now the one dealing with injuries, as he has been out since before the All-Star break with a foot issue. When he has played, he hasn’t been good. In 22.5 minutes per game, he scores just 3.4 points. His defense is no longer terrific and he provides very little on offense.
There isn’t any reason to keep Noel around with Robinson holding down the starting spot and rookie Jericho Sims impressing. Robinson might be moved this offseason but even then, the Knicks should look to dump Noel onto another team. The veteran will be making $9 million next season and has a team option for the following season.
2. Alec Burks
Burks’ tumultuous season is not entirely his doing. Thibodeau insists that he can play point guard despite his reluctance to drive and inability to make effective passes on a consistent basis. It has caused New York’s offense to grow cold very often. Even if he gets moved back to his usual spot, the Knicks should look to deal him away.
As a shooter off the wing, Burks can be an effective player. He played the role with the Knicks last season and thrived. But when he is tasked with running the show, the assignment overwhelms him. New York has too many other wing options (namely Quentin Grimes and Cam Reddish) that are more worthy of playing time to keep him.
The front office has to save Thibodeau from himself. Burks could fetch a solid return, as he is still a strong shooter (39.5 percent on 3-pointers in 4.8 attempts per game) and is due just $10 million next season with a team option worth the same amount for the following season.
Yeah, it’s already time. Bad body language and lackluster defensive effort aside, the Knicks should look to move on from their 2021 All-Star, even though he claims that he doesn’t want to be moved.
Randle looks nothing like the star that took New York by storm last season. The 27-year-old stuffs the stat sheet but does not have any real substance to his game anymore. With the team being so far away from playoff contention, his role makes less of an impact.
Not only has Randle’s play declined but the Knicks are finding other guys who do what he does. RJ Barrett is having a phenomenal second half of this season and is emerging as a dependable focal point for the offense. Obi Toppin is having an impressive stretch, as well. The eighth overall pick in the 2020 draft is improving and is showing the most heart out of anyone on the team.
New York sounds willing to move on from Randle, though it remains to be seen how active they will shop him. Since he just signed a huge contract extension that kicks in after this season, it may be tough to find a suitor. But if any are out there, the Knicks should finally cut bait with Randle.