The Knicks spent the last two seasons saving their money so they could buy two sports cars this offseason, yet they ended up with six Camrys and an Acura (Julius Randle is the Acura). The Knicks were active this July during the free agency period, signing seven different free agents to contracts. That’s half their roster! It’s weird seeing the Knicks have all of this money at their disposal, as the team usually has all of their money tied up with over the hill ex-stars or 32 year old centers. After the Knicks traded a certain Latvian PF (who’s name I won’t say), they had $74 million dollars in cap space to play around with this offseason. Here’s what they did with it.
The Knicks signed a bunch of power forwards (PF). By a bunch, I mean four. Yes, really. The Knicks prize this offseason was Julius Randle, but they signed three other PF to work into their lineup. They signed PF Bobby Portis to a 1 year deal worth $15 million dollars, with a club option in 2020 for $15.7 million. Portis is only 24 years old and he is coming off his best season of his career. During the 2018-2019 season, Portis averaged 14.2 points per game (PPG) and 8.1 rebounds per game (RPG).
They also signed PF Marcus Morris for one year and $15 million dollars. Morris is 29 years old, and he’s averaged 13.8 PPG and 5.9 RPG over his last two seasons with the Boston Celtics. Morris has played some small forward in his career as well, and can back up Kevin Knox.
To round off the Knicks PF acquisitions, they signed Taj Gibson to a two year deal worth $20 million dollars. Gibson is 34 years old and has averaged 9.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 1.1 blocks per game (BPG) for his career. Gibson has mostly spent his career with the Chicago Bulls, however he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves the last two seasons. Somehow, someway, he should find playing time around Randle, Portis, and Morris for the Knicks this season. At 6’9 230 pounds, Gibson fits the mold of the stereotypical PF. I think Gibson is too short to play center, and I personally don’t like this signing. He’s the oldest player the Knicks signed this offseason, can only play PF, and paying him for two years through age 36 isn’t the smartest move. Did the Knicks really need all of this depth at PF? Couldn’t they have just resigned Noah Vonleh (who cheaply signed a one year $2 million dollar contract with the Timberwolves), instead of giving Gibson an extra year and $18 million more? Vonleh is also 24 so I really am not sure what the Knicks were thinking here signing Gibson along with three other PF while letting a decent young one walk for practically nothing. Anyways, moving on.
Point guard Elfrid Payton signed a two year deal for $16 million dollars. Payton is 25 years old and has averaged 11.1 PPG, 6.6 assists per game (APG), 4.4 RPG, and 1.3 steals per game in his five year career. Last season with the New Orleans Pelicans, Payton averaged 7.6 assists and 5.2 rebounds. Only five other point guards last season averaged 7.6 assists and 5.2 rebounds or more: Ben Simmons, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Jrue Holiday, and Rajon Rondo. Not bad company for Elfrid. The Knicks acquired Dennis Smith Jr last season when they got rid of their Latvian PF (who’s name I won’t say), so Payton will compete with Smith for starting PG. Who knows, maybe Payton will end up starting over Smith?
The Knicks acquired some wing players to back up RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox. They signed Reggie Bullock to a two year contract worth $8.2 million dollars. He’s 28 years old and has been in the NBA for 6 seasons, averaging 6.8 PPG and shooting .392 on his three pointers. Last season, Bullock averaged 2.3 three pointers a game and 11.3 PPG.
Wayne Ellington signed a two year deal worth $16 million dollars to back up Barrett at shooting guard. In his 10 year career, Ellington has been on 8 different teams (9 including the Knicks). Just last year he was traded from the Miami Heat to the Detroit Pistons. He’s 32 years old, and will be shooting threes off the bench next season (he averaged 2.6 threes a game last season).
To recap: the Knicks didn’t sign any superstars but they offered a bunch of short term deals to quality role players. The deals suggest that they will try again in two years when the next crop of free agent superstars are available. The Knicks hope that these established veterans will help the young Knicks starting lineup develop and play quality basketball as they look to win more than 17 games next season.
Image Source: AP Images/Tyler Kaufman