4 Knicks playing their final postseason in New York

The New York Knicks are well positioned as the No. 2 seed, but these players won't stick around once their postseason run concludes.
Bojan Bogdanovic, New York Knicks
Bojan Bogdanovic, New York Knicks / John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks claimed the No. 2 seed with an overtime victory over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday afternoon. With Julius Randle out of commission, Jalen Brunson continues to lead the Knicks' ragtag group of committed defenders and star-in-role specialists into battle on a nightly basis. And we know the Knicks battle.

Tom Thibodeau, for all his flaws, is great at getting his team to commit to the bit. It's not really a bit, of course — the Knicks fight tooth and nail on the defensive end and stick to their principles on offense, often applying brute force and a bit of old-fashioned hustle to outmatch their opponent.

How far the Knicks can go in the postseason is unclear. A first round matchup with Philadelphia or Miami awaits. Both teams present issues. The Heat can win dirty too, and the SIxers would have the best player in the series. Oh, and that's without mentioning the coaching advantage of Erik Spoelstra or Nick Nurse.

That said, the Knicks tend to will their way to difficult wins, and New York's ability to wear down opponents could come in handy. We saw New York pummel Cleveland en route to the second round last season. A trip to the conference finals, with guaranteed home court advantage through at least two rounds, is not out of the question. The playoff atmosphere in Madison Square Garden is #different.

That said, free agency awaits all the same. When the Knicks' season does conclude, a few noteworthy players are expected to depart. Here's who won't be back in a Knickerbockers jersey come 2024-25.

4. Shake Milton needs more minutes than the Knicks can offer

The Knicks added Shake Milton from the buyout market, a signing that was more fun in theory than actuality. Milton only appeared in six games for New York, averaging 1.8 points in 4.5 minutes. That is what we like to call "not in the rotation."

New York needed more ball-handling juice after the Immanuel Quickley trade, but those minutes have been handed over to Alec Burks and Deuce McBride. Milton has an intriguing skill set at 6-foot-6, capable of guarding a couple positions and scoring out of isolations on offense, but he's just not part of what Tom Thibodeau is cooking up on a nightly basis.

After finding himself squeezed out of the Minnesota Timberwolves' rotation early in the season, Milton faces an uphill battle to catch the attention of NBA front offices this summer. He's 27 years old, so the allure of upside has worn off. He's either a playable piece or not. Milton hasn't been terribly efficient from 3-point range in recent years, compared to his excellent shooting numbers in college, but the NBA loves big guards who can generate advantages and create off a live dribble.

That said, Milton should still have some level of intrigue in NBA circles. Just don't expect him back in New York, where he's clearly not needed.

3. Precious Achiuwa won't have a spot in the Knicks lineup next season

The Knicks acquired Precious Achiuwa as part of the OG Anunoby trade. At 24 years old, Achiuwa has always been a fascinating long-term project. He's a great athlete, listed at 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds with bull-esque strength and impressive lateral mobility. He's slightly undersized for the frontcourt — especially the five spot — but he has no trouble muscling up post scorers and battling strong-armed wings at the point of attack.

Most NBA teams are constantly on the lookout for switchable forwards who can hit 3s. Achiuwa has unfortunately been more of a theoretical modern forward than a reliable modern forward, though. He shot 26.8 percent from deep this season and he averages as many turnovers (1.1) as assists. For every fluid drive to the cup, Achiuwa will stumble into a bad turnover. His laggy decision-making makes it hard to keep him on the floor in high-leverage moments.

Generally speaking, there's too much there to be out on Achiuwa as an NBA player. He's just not going to fit into New York's plans next season. The Knicks should, if all goes well, have Mitchell Robinson, Isaiah Hartenstein, and Julius Randle all healthy when the new campaign starts. Throw in the potential to add frontcourt depth in the NBA Draft, and Achiuwa becomes redundant.

Some team will gamble on his intriguing mix of athletic tools and borderline skills, but he's a restricted free agent that New York can comfortably let walk.

2. Knicks probably won't re-sign Alec Burks based on his performance

Alec Burks started the season fairly strong in Detroit. He was billed as one of the NBA's top bench guards, comfortable bombing 3s, operating as a secondary creator, and defending well enough to stick in high-leverage moments at 6-foot-6. Positional size and shot-making has always been Burks' calling card, but his performance since arriving in New York at the trade deadline has been thoroughly disappointing.

In 23 games (one start) with the Knicks, Burks has averaged 6.5 points and 1.7 rebounds on .307/.301/.727 splits in 13.5 minutes. Maybe it's a simple shooting slump — in fact, it's definitely a shooting slump — but Burks has given the Knicks very little motivation to re-sign him.

One could look at the bright side (from the Knicks' perspective, at least) and say that Burks' next contract got meaningfully cheaper over the last two months. A smart team will buy low, add Burks on a minimum deal, and hope that he can return to the efficient shooter and complementary ball-handler he was in Detroit before the deadline.

Burks has experience in New York too, having spent two years with the Knicks prior to landing with the Pistons in the summer of 2022. So, Thibs knows what Burks is capable of at full strength. That said, Thibs has gone all-in on the defense this season, and that has arguably been Burks' biggest weakness, even with the off-mark shooting. As Deuce McBride and Donte DiVincenzo continue to ascend, the Knicks have little incentive to hand Burks a guaranteed role, which he can probably still find somewhere else.

1. Knicks will probably release or trade Bojan Bogdanovic

When the Knicks landed Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks from Detroit without sacrificing a first-round pick, it was widely hailed as highway robbery, the crown jewel of Leon Rose's front office tenure. Well... it's hard to call the swap a failure since Detroit recouped so little, but the Knicks are probably more than a little disappointed with how well their end of the bargain has fared.

In addition to Burks' sudden inability to hit shots, Bogdanovic has hit a wall in New York. After averaging 32.9 minutes per game in Detroit, Bogey is netting 19.3 minutes on average with the Knicks. Some of it is age and a natural decline. The Knicks were always much more talented than the Pistons, of course. But, some of it is compatabiliy with the coach. Bogdanovic is offense-only at this stage of his career, to put it mildly. Thibs doesn't like players who can't guard.

The offensive numbers aren't terrible. Bogdanovic is supplying 10.4 points and 2.0 assists on .429/.364/.791 splits in New York, which is plenty respectable when factoring in playing time. But, for someone who was considered a consensus top-100, maybe even a borderline top-50 player a couple years ago, the fall has been steep and sudden. The Knicks were supposed to get a starting-level forward who could step into the void left by Julius Randle's absence. Instead, Bogey is little more than a sharpshooting reserve who can't stay on the floor in high-stakes situations.

Bogdanovic is due a shade over $19 million next season, but only $2 million is guaranteed. If the Knicks don't cut him, Bogey will only be kept around as trade bait. The Knicks aren't done big-game hunting after the Anunoby trade, and Bogdanovic's expiring contract could serve as valuable salary filler. Or, the Knicks can cut ties and let the dead weight sink. Either way, Bogdanovic's days in the Big Apple are numbered.

NBA RUMORS. Knicks-AD trade, DeRozan bullish on Bulls, Nets HC finalists. Knicks-AD trade, DeRozan bullish on Bulls, Nets HC finalists. dark