Knicks’ Off-Season Board: Who Stays and Who Leaves?

The New York Knicks come into the off-season with some important moves to make. Many players part of the dream season in the Big Apple have contracts ending this year and plenty of others who could be awaiting larger contracts. Additionally, the prospect of picking up a big-name player seems to excite the Knicks’ board who could make big moves. Here’s how they’ll need to approach a key off-season. 

The Untouchables 

RJ Barrett

Barrett recently finished off strong seasons. RJ Barrett was the second option in New York and averaged a strong 18 points and six rebounds. He showed significant improvement from the 2019/20 season and has the potential to perform at the highest level. At only 21 years old, there’s still a tremendous amount of time to grow. RJ Barrett is the future of the Knicks and shouldn’t be offered in trade deals this off-season. 

Immanuel Quickley

Immanuel Quickley, while not as impressive statistically, was still great for the Knicks last season. The 22-year-old rookie was electric off the bench for New York and played an important role in landing the Knicks the fourth seed. There’s limitless potential in the young guard and unless a star player is in the cards for the Knicks, they should hold on to him. 

Resign As Soon as Possible

Derrick Rose

New York Knicks fans rejoiced when Derrick Rose was announced as a Knick back in February. The former MVP came in to offer some experience and give some good minutes off the bench. Instead, Rose became one of the most important players for the Knicks down the long stretch of games. NBA fans witnessed a vintage DRose who was crafty and consistent. The 32-year-old guard surpassed expectations at Madison Square Garden and deserves to be brought back.

Nerlens Noel

Over the past off-season, Nerlens Noel was signed to a small contract and was supposed to be a solid player to bring off the bench for Mitchell Robinson. However, Robinson struggled with numerous injuries throughout the season forcing the Knicks to give this incredibly mediocre center big minutes. Nevertheless, Noel thrived in New York where his gritty, high-intensity defense flourished. The 27-year-old center was vital to the Knicks in their journey to the playoffs. The Massachusetts- born 7-footer fits perfectly with Tom Thibodeau’s style and a contract extension is expected. 

Alec Burks

Alec Burks was another surprise for the Knicks this year. He was a good presence off the bench for New York and erupted in some games. The guard is a nice piece to be able to bring on when you need a spark on offense and should be resigned. It’s unlikely New York will face competition from many to get his signature but bringing back Alec Burks should still be a priority. 

Ones to be Open to Letting Go of

Julius Randle 

Yes, Julius Randle is coming off a fairytale season. It’s clear he accomplished something great for the Knicks. The 26-year-old was an All-Star, Most Improved Player, and All NBA as he led the Knicks to the fourth seed. There’s no doubt about the fact Randle has been tremendous for the Knicks. However, watching him struggle as much as he did in the playoffs has surely worried the front office. Randle may be great but is he great enough to really take the Knicks further than they got this year?

It’s difficult to see him really reaching a new level where he can get the Knicks to a whole new level so quickly. While he shouldn’t be listed on any trade block or thrown into many trades, the Knicks should still see if they can use him to get a great piece for the future. Perhaps drawing away an unnerved Zion Williamson or a top-3 pick could be an option if the Knicks choose to let Randle go. However, trading Randle’s name shouldn’t really be thrown around unless a star is as well. 

Obi Toppin

Obi Toppin is a difficult name to throw in here so soon into his career. However, with the very mediocre season he’s had, the Knicks should feel inclined to listen to trade offers. Toppin came into the draft as one of the oldest players. While he didn’t have the ceiling some of the higher picks had, he was supposed to be the most NBA-ready player in the lottery. With his physique and the amount of college experience he already had, he was expected to come into the NBA and give good minutes. However, this hasn’t been the case.

The 23-year-old was dismal as he had very little confidence and wasn’t playing like himself. His most talked-about game was a nine-point game against the Dallas Mavericks, which speaks to how quiet he’s been this season. Toppin is already 23 and while he deserves another year to prove himself, the Knicks should still listen to offers for him this off-season.

Mitchell Robinson 

Mitchell Robinson’s situation is also tricky. He suffered injuries all season long and his worth has really been questioned. His offensive production is quite low and he’s clearly injury-prone. The young center is certainly a strong defender but he isn’t that important to the Knicks’ success. The front office could listen to trade offers for him this off-season because he’ll soon enter as a UFA, and, frankly, doesn’t deserve much money. However, there’s a sensing feeling he will expect more than he’s earned. Nevertheless, Robinson deserves a year to prove that his injuries are behind him and that he is important to New York. 

Those to get rid of

Elfrid Payton

While he doesn’t deserve as much hate as he’s gotten, Elfrid Payton has to go. The point guard has offered little to the Knicks and has simply been taking up valuable minutes from the younger guards on the roster. Payton is a below-average shooter and playmaker and only really contributes defensively. Thibodeau completely stripped him of his minutes in the playoffs and forced him to watch full games from the bench. Payton is an unnecessary piece to keep and the Knicks will have little difficulty in letting him go.

Frank Ntilikina

The French Prince’s time has run out. He’s gotten no minutes under Thibodeau which really does say a lot because he’s often opted for the stronger defensive players. Ntilikina has rarely played and isn’t useful to New York anymore. He could undoubtedly benefit from a fresh start with a new team. It’s time to let the Frenchman walk away. 

Kevin Knox

In a very similar position to Ntilikina, Knox has gotten his time to prove himself and has wasted it. He’s no longer getting minutes and has wallowed on the bench throughout the season. Knox has shown potential before but hasn’t really even gotten himself to the next level. He’s seemed unenergized and unenthusiastic in the blue and orange uniform and the Knicks will have no trouble letting him leave. 

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