New York Knicks offseason primer: Everything you need to know

New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Knicks disappointed fans in New York by missing the playoffs last season. Here’s how they hope to strengthen their roster heading into next year. 

Tom Thibodeau piloted the New York Knicks to a surprising fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference two years ago. That made last season’s 11th-place finish a massive disappointment for fans in New York. The pressure is on the higher-ups in the organization to get back into the postseason after the conclusion of their 2022-23 campaign.

The good news is that New York’s roster isn’t devoid of talent. Knicks officials have a lot of confidence in R.J. Barrett to become their offensive star of the future. There’s also hope that Julius Randle can rediscover the scoring efficiency that made him such a premium player two seasons ago.

There is a lot of heavy lifting to do around the edges of the Knicks roster. Here’s what New York fans should be looking for heading into the hectic free agency period.

What will the Knicks roster look like come September?

The Knicks front office will be focused more on quality transactions than making a massive numerical overhaul this offseason. They believe they have the bones of a quality Eastern Conference playoff team.

It’s a safe bet that New York will look to bring in a high-priced free agent point guard to lead their offense. The center position is also a question mark due to Mitchell Robinson’s free agency. Other high-priced veterans might be moved to create roster flexibility but much of the team’s core from last year will remain intact.

Projected Knicks starting lineup

PG: Derrick Rose
SG: RJ Barrett
SF: Evan Fournier
PF: Julius Randle
C: Mitchell Robinson

It’s an open secret that the Knicks are leading the free-agent chase for Jalen Brunson. For the moment, it’s reasonable to pencil him as the new starting point guard at the Garden ahead of veteran Derrick Rose.

Evan Fournier might be moved in a quasi-salary dump but at the moment he’s got the edge to be the team’s starting off guard. R.J. Barrett will join him on the wing as the team’s primary creator.

Julius Randle will return as the guy eating up the bulk of the minutes at the power forward spot but the identity of his running mate at center is still up in the air. Robinson could be the guy if he’s willing to return on a reasonably priced deal but don’t rule out the possibility of Obi Toppin sliding down and taking over the role in a smaller, more nimble Knicks lineup.

Who should the Knicks target in free agency?

  1. Jalen Brunson, PG/Mavericks

Jalen Brunson seems set to receive a four-year, $100 million offer that should be enough to pry him away from the Mavericks. Signing him is going to eat up virtually all of the team’s salary cap space. Bringing Mitchell Robinson back on a fair deal will end any chances New York has of using additional cap space to land a free agent not named Brunson.

Possible Knicks trade targets

If the Knicks somehow don’t land Brunson then expect a trade to pry Malcolm Brogdon away from the Pacers to quickly materialize. Otherwise, things should be pretty quiet on the trade front. They might find a way to bring in an interesting young flyer when dumping a high-priced veteran but that’s a difficult line for New York to potentially walk.

Projected Knicks cap space

Assuming the Knicks, as expected, waive Taj Gibson thereby shedding his potential $5.2 million salary for next season New York will have approximately $18 million in cap space. They cleared the rest of what they’ll need to sign Brunson by trading Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks to the Detroit Pistons.

Dumping Fournier’s $18 million expiring contract might give New York even more flexibility but that won’t happen without attaching some draft assets to the deal. It would also force the Knicks to find a new starting two-guard unless they’re ready to try to shoehorn Cam Reddish into that spot.

Knicks NBA Draft results

  • No. 11 overall – Ousmane Dieng, SF/New Zealand Breakers
    • Knicks traded Dieng to the Oklahoma City Thunder 
  • No. 42 overall – Trevor Keels, SG/Duke

New York was one of the Draft’s most active teams in Round 1, but that doesn’t mean they added significant talent. Instead, the Knicks opted to deal out of this year’s draft to acquire future picks. Those transactions also allowed the team to keep cap space open to potentially sign Brunson. The franchise could have used an infusion of young talent but they elected to delay adding multiple rookies for at least one more season.

Knicks outgoing free agents

The headliner of this group is definitely Robinson. He struggled with injuries last season but there’s no denying his talent. Shedding some of the weight he added to battle large Eastern Conference centers in the post might help him stay on the floor more moving forward. Expect the Knicks to make him a competitive offer rather than let him depart for free.

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Ryan Arcidiacano is also out of contract but he won’t be a priority for the team’s front office to retain. He could always return on a minimum deal but he won’t be anything more than roster filler for a team hoping to return to the top half of the Eastern Conference standings next season.