The New York Knicks made it past the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round, but fell to the eventual Eastern Conference champions Miami Heat in Round 2. Despite the second-round exit, the Knicks have plenty of reasons to feel good for next season. They can build off this campaign to get better pieces in NBA free agency so they could take the next step in 2023-24.

The Knicks have been known for targeting big names in free agency — and there are quite a few out there that they might be looking at. However, they don't really have much cap room to work with. The salary cap stands at $134 million, while the luxury tax limit is at $162 million, per New York already has $121.7 million in guaranteed salaries next season. Josh Hart has a $12.9 million player option this summer, while Derrick Rose ($15.6 million) and Miles McBride ($1.8 million) are both under club options in the offseason.

With that said, New York doesn't really have the money to sign a big-name free agent to significantly improve their title chances. But the Knicks do have the $12 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception and the $4.5 million biannual exception to use to boost this team in free agency. With not so much to work with, the Knicks must use their money wisely to sign quality free agents. Though their options are limited, there are some players they should avoid even giving a look at in free agency.

Live and breathe the NBA?

🚨 Get viral NBA graphics, memes, rumors and trending news delivered right to your inbox with the Clutch Newsletter.

1. Dillon Brooks

This guy must be on everybody's avoid list. But for New York, they might just give Dillon Brooks a look because of what he brings as a defender and an energy and hustle guy. Looking at Brooks as a player, he checks the boxes as a Tom Thibodeau guy. He also looks like a guy Knicks fans would love, and he could fit in that $12 million price tag for the non-taxpayer exception if he doesn't get a larger deal on the free agent market.

Still, the Knicks should do everything within their power to avoid signing Brooks. As tenacious he is as a defender, he still has issues offensively. He takes too many ill-advised shots — adding to the bad shots Julius Randle already takes.

Furthermore, they already have someone — Josh Hart — who brings everything Brooks brings to the table. And he does it a hundred times better, too. Retaining Josh Hart will undoubtedly be the Knicks' top priority this summer. There's no need for them to give Brooks a look.

2. Jae Crowder

Jae Crowder also looks like the typical Thibs guy because of what he brings with his hustle and energy. At 34 years old, he could also give this relatively young Knicks team a solid veteran leader off the bench, who can defend and make threes.

However, Crowder quickly lost some luster after he held out the majority of the 2022-23 campaign because he did not want to play for the Phoenix Suns. Who told him he could do that? He's a role player. Role players like him don't get to do that a get away with it. The league should sour over Crowder's attitude toward his Suns situation, considering Phoenix was still a title contender.

When he did go to the Milwaukee Bucks, he was initially expected to play a significant role for them. But he ended up playing just four of their games in the playoffs, averaging 10.2 minutes per game, and he expressed his displeasure over it.

New York should avoid signing Crowder, even if they need more shooters and a veteran 3-and-D presence on their squad.