The New York Knicks Free Agency haul this summer was supposed to be the one that lifted the franchise out of the doldrums and into the nationwide spotlight.
Both players — by many analysts and pundits — were predestined to become Knicks. Alas, it was never meant to be as Knicks were reportedly scared off by Durant’s Achilles injury.
So, in essence, Plan A was scrapped and Knicks’ management quickly shifted to Plan B. This to the chagrin of many Knicks’ fans.
Free Agency Recap for the New York Knicks
Free Agency Changes
While people across social media platforms and the blogosphere love to criticize the Knicks, New York did not overcompensate when the Durant/Irving combo package fell through. There has to be some measure of commendation for how the Knicks handled free agency. They did so with patience and due diligence.
The Knicks kept themselves busy by signing five free agents in Julius Randle, Wayne Ellington, Bobby Portis, Elfrid Payton, and Taj Gibson. A sixth and a seventh addition in the form of Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock should also soon be official.
The biggest pickup is, of course, Randle. He signed a three-year deal worth $63 million.
Breaking Down the Signings
Randle enjoyed a breakout campaign with the New Orleans Pelicans in which he averaged 21.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Those numbers were only second to Anthony Davis’ numbers in 56 games with New Orleans.
Randle was a rock for the Pelicans last season. Randle played in 73 contests and also averaged a solid 3.1 assists per game while shooting a more than respectable 52.4 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from three-point range.
He is just coming into his own and he will only get better. After all, Randle is just 24 years old.
— New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) July 12, 2019
Complementing Randle down low will be experienced veteran big men in Gibson and Morris. While the two don’t possess that much flash, their game is more based on substance. Gibson and Morris will prove to be the perfect complement to Randle’s evolving game.
Not to mention, Portis’ name hasn’t been brought up yet.
The Knicks are sure stockpiling big men.
Portis — who is also just 24 years old — still possesses a ton of upside himself. Don’t give up on him just yet.
There will be playing time concerns in the frontcourt, but that is a matter for head coach David Fizdale to figure out.
Add in a few savvy guards in Payton and Ellington (also probably Bullock) and the Knicks have a few more veterans to bolster the roster. This will help greatly in the growth of players like Dennis Smith Jr., Allonzo Trier, Damyean Dotson and, of course, No. 1 pick RJ Barrett.
Looking Ahead for the New York Knicks
Look, the Knicks did not panic and just throw money at a problem. In the past, they overpaid for supposed stars — hello Amar’e Stoudemire — to appease its fanbase. It seems they now learned from prior mistakes.
The front office was meticulous in upgrading the talent level with budding young stars — namely Randle — while surrounding the young core with polished veterans. This will allow the youngster to mature on a curve.
When you can’t add sure-fire superstars, you might as well go the youth and upside route.
Granted the moves won’t make for splashy headlines, say what the Brooklyn Nets have generated, but the moves did make the team better. That’s for sure.
The moves will probably not be enough for the Knicks to be playoff contenders. That said, they will still have the likely cap room next summer to spend again.
If the Knicks can show some tangible and palpable progress this coming season, maybe next year’s free agent class will give New York a much harder look.
Again, the signings won’t move the needle as far as buzz goes, but the Knicks did get better. There is hope that with some financial restraint and a commitment to building with youth that New York will start moving in the right direction.
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