In the span of one season, the New York Knicks went from being a top 4 team in the Eastern Conference to not even making it to the play-in tournament. They need more pieces, and they can obtain them through the 2022 NBA free agency period.
The Knicks had a terrible 2021-2022 season. The majority of the veterans on the squad did not perform to the expected standards. More specifically, Julius Randle significantly regressed, and Kemba Walker did not even finish the season. Walker was also recently part of a three-way trade with the Charlotte Hornets and the Detroit Pistons. Reportedly, Walker and the Pistons are expected to engage in a contract buyout, allowing him to become a free agent.
The most disappointing player, though, was Randle. He was named to the All-NBA team in 2021, but this past season, he acted more like the player that most NBA fans originally anticipated him to be. Too bad the Knicks extended him. He was still a borderline 20-10 guy, but nearly every key stat went south for Randle in 2021-2022.
The roster's shining star this past season was certainly RJ Barrett, while players like Obi Toppin, Cam Reddish, and Immanuel Quickley also emerged as potential key pieces.
With the 2022 NBA free agency about to open on June 30, Knicks supporters have a lot on their minds and are hoping they can snag a major addition for the next campaign.
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4 players Knicks must sign in 2022 NBA free agency:
4. Ricky Rubio
The Knicks need a reliable playmaker, and at his best and healthiest, Ricky Rubio is NBA playmaking elite.
In fact, Rubio was playing some of the greatest basketball of his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers before tearing his ACL. Rubio was shooting 36.3 percent from the field and 33.9 percent from 3-point range prior to his injury. He was also averaging 13.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game.
Even if those shooting numbers do not stand out, Rubio would give the Knicks a real honest-to-goodness playmaker, which is something they haven't had in quite some time.
According to several speculations, however, Rubio is inclined to return to the Cavaliers this offseason. If that doesn't pan out, though, then the Knicks should seize any chance to sign him up.
Cavs 'Very Interested' In Signing Ricky Rubio https://t.co/uJgVApmVGj
— RealGM (@RealGM) June 27, 2022
Sure, Rubio may not be a star, but he can efficiently manage an offense at a very high level. For so long, the Knicks have been a team that has needed a legitimate point guard to lead the offense, and Rubio could be that guy.
3. Tyus Jones
Snagging Rubio might be a long shot, so someone like Tyus Jones can be a considerable option for the Knicks as well. Yes, Jones may not turn many heads, but this is a low-maintenance and cost-effective signing if the Knicks can close it.
He adds depth to their backcourt and brings a lot of the things Rubio can, too. He is a genuine floor general. In fact, he has recorded close to a 4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in his 7-year NBA career. That's crazy efficient, and it's actually close to Chris Paul territory already. Jones also defends at a high level and shot a career-high 39.0 percent from beyond the arc last season.
For context – some second-half stats:
Jones: 102 assists vs. 9 turnovers
Reggie Jax: 100 assists vs. 49 TOs
Tatum: 101 assists vs 55 turnovers
Fultz: 99 assists vs. 40 turnovers
SGA: 95 assists vs. 51 turnovers
Kyrie: 92 assists vs 39 turnovers
FVV: 86 assists vs. 35 turnovers
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) June 27, 2022
As a bonus, Jones has been under head coach Tom Thibodeau in the past. Jones was coached by Thibodeau for three seasons while both were in Minnesota. That familiarity could result in a lot of good things for the Knicks.
It's not hard to be high on Mitchell Robinson, but the Knicks shouldn't break the bank to keep him. Having said that, it appears unlikely that he will find a deal that New York cannot match.
In this year's free agency period, Robinson won't be the top big man in the pool — that's Deandre Ayton. Most teams would want someone who can roll, rebound, block, and mayeb most imporantly, shoot. Robinson can do all but shoot, which sinks his stock a bit.
Still, the Knicks ought to be eager for a reunion with the 24-year-old big man, assuming that any Robinson deal won't burn a hole in their pockets.
Mitchell Robinson needs TWO contracts:
1. Knicks contract
2. Mitch's Block Party contract pic.twitter.com/uzkcjm7feR
— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) June 27, 2022
For what it's worth, Robinson put up career-best numbers in rebounding and field goal shooting this past season. He also stayed among the elite rim protectors of the league. The Knicks stand to lose if they let Robinson just walk.
Let the Jalen Brunson sweepstakes commence. It won't be easy to pilfer Brunson from the Dallas Mavericks, but some ties to the city of New York plus a chance to play a bigger role may entice the 25-year-old to choose the Big Apple.
To acquire him, however, the Knicks will almost definitely need to do a sign-and-trade deal, and last anyone checked, the Mavs aren't warm to that kind of scenario.
The Knicks are looking to clear $25M in cap space to go after Jalen Brunson in free agency, per @JakeLFischer pic.twitter.com/03MPtSbCxr
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 21, 2022
Despite that, the Knicks need to find any and all means to try and get Brunson.
He is a rising star in a position that is just extremely important in this era of NBA basketball. Remember that he has shown flashes of tremendous potential, especially in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. Now, if he can find more consistency with his production, the Knicks might be looking at their best player at the point guard spot since maybe… Derek Harper?
Keep in mind as well that Brunson's father is actually part of the Knicks organization. As a native of New Jersey, Brunson has also been directly exposed to the Knicks all his life. If Brunson truly wants out of Dallas and prefers to go to the Knicks, perhaps even the Mavs' own disdain for a sign-and-trade deal won't stop this from happening.