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Grading the New York Knicks’ 2021 NBA offseason


After a 41-31 campaign that surprised many as they landed the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, expectations were raised for the New York Knicks this offseason.

While they didn’t land a superstar, Knicks president Leon Rose and the rest of the front office made some calculated moves to improve the team for next season.

Now it’s time to grade the offseason for the New York Knicks.

New York Knicks’ final offseason grade: B+

In free agency, the Knicks brought back many of their own from last year. It’s a list that includes Derrick Rose, Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks and Taj Gibson. While the Noel deal seemed a bit steep, it’s worth noting that New York has team options on the backend of all these contracts. So Noel’s three-year deal could turn into two years and the same can be said for Rose and Burks.

It gives the Knicks flexibility down the road either to work in trades in a year or two or to cut ties if one or more of these moves end up not panning out.

New York also brought back the right options, which is key. Elfrid Payton was a mess at point guard last year and now he’s off to Phoenix. Frank Ntilikina was a fan favorite but wasn’t even in Tom Thibodeau’ rotation last year. They were let go while key contributors were brought back. For that, the Knicks deserve a pat on the back.

After those moves which happened fairly quickly, New York dipped their toes into the pool of free agents that weren’t with the team. They scooped up Evan Fournier who is a certified bucket getter.

The Knicks deserve credit for identifying their problems and addressing them. Against the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs, New York had a miserable time trying to create offense on their own. Fournier can do just that and facilitate for others as well. He’s got a smooth jumper and he’s fearless on offense.

The move everyone will remember though, is Kemba Walker coming back home. The Bronx native was bought out by the Oklahoma City Thunder and Leon Rose and Co. worked in stealth mode to swiftly sign him. There wasn’t a buildup to the signing, there were no rumors, it seemed to happen in the snap of a finger but was something that was being worked on behind the scenes for a bit. If Walker can stay healthy, it’s a great signing especially at the price New York is paying.

Some may have wanted the Knicks to go for broke in trying to acquire a superstar but who would that have been? Damian Lillard stayed put in Portland while the Wizards hung on tight to Bradley Beal. Ben Simmons is still in Philadelphia and would the Knicks have really wanted him anyways? Not at the price Philly was asking for.

Walker and Fournier likely don’t make New York title contenders but they add to a core that is trying to slowly but surely build its way up.

Onto to the draft.

The Knicks entered the 2021 NBA Draft with four picks. Many speculated they wouldn’t keep all four. And while they did plenty of shuffling around they ended up with four picks when it was all said and done.

New York had the No. 19 overall pick and traded it to the Charlotte Hornets for a future first-round selection.

They had the No. 21 overall pick and traded it to the Los Angeles Clippers for pick No. 25 and a future second-round pick.

With that No. 25 selection, the Knicks took Quentin Grimes out of Houston. Grimes showed off at the tail end of the NBA Las Vegas Summer league and was burying shot after shot from the perimeter. He’s an in-your-face defender that will fit Thibs’ scheme perfectly.

New York then traded pick No. 32 for No. 34 and No. 36. At No. 34 they took Rokas Jokubaitis. He will stay over in the EuroLeague for the upcoming season. With the 36th pick, the Knicks took another bulldog in West Virginia point guard Miles McBride.

McBride was the energizer bunny for the Knicks’ summer league squad and although there’s plenty of depth at point guard for New York, he may scratch out some sort of role.

With their final pick they took Jericho Sims who can jump out of the gym and will likely see time in the G-League this year. He displayed his freakish athleticism during the summer league.

The Knicks get a B+ in total for their offseason. It wasn’t an A+ because it’s hard to justify this being the picture perfect offseason. However, it was a really good one for Leon Rose and the front office as they look to take the next steps in advancing in the playoffs.