One big mistake by the Knicks in 2021 NBA Free Agency
The New York Knicks just had their best season in eight years. They made the playoffs for the first time since 2013 when Carmelo Anthony used to torch opposing teams night in and night out. After the Julius Randle-led squad ended the playoff drought at Madison Square Garden, unfortunately, they got bounced by Trae Young’s Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
They enter next season with a lot of optimism and hype after they booked their playoff spot last season. The Knicks locked Randle in for years to come after agreeing to a four-year extension worth $117 million. That’s an awesome deal as Randle had a career year averaging 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists leading to his first NBA All-Star appearance for New York last season.
Randle carried the Knicks en route to a playoff spot. For his individual efforts, the forward was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player and was also named to the All-NBA third team.
They also got a steal as Kemba Walker signed for the Knicks at a lower cost after getting bought out from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Walker will look to bounce back for his hometown team as he struggled in his stint with the Boston Celtics.
However, despite these great “value for money” deals, the Knicks certainly made some mistakes during this year’s offseason and that is spending a lot of money on free agents like Evan Fournier, Derrick Rose, Alec Burks, and Nerlens Noel.
Fournier was inked on a four-year $78 million deal and is pretty expensive for a guy who has career averages of 14.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists. That’s a hefty deal for a non-All-Star who will be slotted as a secondary or tertiary scorer.
Nerlens Noel re-signed for three more years at $32 million, another big chunk to pay a center who will play behind Mitchell Robinson. Don’t get me wrong, Noel really helped the Knicks with his interior defending, but Robinson is their star of the future and he’s looking as healthy as ever. The Knicks could have gotten someone cheaper who can replicate Noel’s production.
Alec Burks also inked a 3-year, $30 million extension. Burks is also a solid contributor IF healthy, and that’s a big if as he constantly struggled with his health during his career.
Lastly, extending Derrick Rose with a 3-year contract worth $43 million. That is almost $14 million a year for a player who, like Burks, struggled with his health over the last few years. When the Knicks traded for Rose last season, they were transformed to a much better team as he helped Randle with his scoring and playmaking skills.
But is he worth that much? The soon-to-be 33-year-old sixth man misses significant time every season and New York could have invested that money in Lonzo Ball, who is making nearly $20 million for the Chicago Bulls.
Ball, who is just 23 years old, would have been a much better fit for their young core’s timeline as they look to compete now and for years to come. Lonzo would have been a great fit alongside their two budding stars in RJ Barrett and Randle since he won’t take away the touches and he can play off the ball.
He would have been a nice addition to the Knicks since he is a lockdown defender as well, something that coach Tom Thibodeau wants. With his 6’6″ frame, Lonzo is a big point guard who is able to defend opposing guards and sometimes wings.