After a disappointing 37-45 finish to this past season, the New York Knicks have some decisions to make as to how their roster is built and how they will play next season. Will they try to change things up? Will they roll the same dice and hope things turn out better? Part of this decision-making involves their free agents.
Fortunately for them, this is a small free agency class. They only have two players to worry about: Ryan Arcidiacono and Mitchell Robinson. Both of these players have team options, meaning the Knicks can decide whether or not they want to keep them. With that in mind, what should the Knicks do with these two players? Who’s in and who’s out?
The so-called “Arch of Dimes” has not been a Knick for long. On January 19th of this year, he signed a 10-day contract that was extended to a full-season contract about a month later. He is a 28-year-old point guard who previously played for the Chicago Bulls and won an NCAA Championship in 2016 with Villanova.
In his brief tenure so far with the Knicks, he has played just 10 games–averaging 7.6 minutes per game. He made 50% of his field goals with an average of 1.6 points per game, 0.8 rebounds per game and 0.4 assists per game. Even with the Knicks’ late-season decline, he failed to get good minutes. Despite his 6′ 3″ height and other strengths, I think this lack of usage is telling–especially with the Knicks’ problems at point guard. With that in mind, I can’t imagine the Knicks resigning him. Derrick Rose should be back from injury soon and Immanuel Quickley has risen quite nicely. This gives the Knicks two viable options at this positions, allowing them to cut the cord with Arcidiacono. I don’t know where he will end up but he does have the experience and skills to make it elsewhere.
This is where it starts to get tricky. Robinson, after missing part of the 2020-2021 season with injury, came back this past season and was reinserted into the lineup. He played in 72 games, averaging 25.7 MPG, 8.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG and 1.8 BPG. He is a traditional center in that he plays in the paint, sets up screens, blocks shots and gets rebounds. At just 24 years old, however, he can be inconsistent. There were stretches of mediocre games and then there were games like this. In this highlight reel, Robinson contributes on multiple levels. This is the Robinson that the Knicks need; playing effectively and to his strengths.
What kind of contract will that translate into? It’s hard to say. With basketball evolving and traditional positions becoming more grey, it may be difficult for Robinson to earn a huge contract. Take (arguably) the league’s best center: Nikola Jokić. Not only does he have the height to play the traditional center role, but he also has the skill to play at point, take three-pointers and run the game. Those are the types of players that get big contracts. Additionally, the Knicks have other options at that position. Nerlens Noel, Taj Gibson and Jericho Sims are are all centers that are currently on the Knicks’ roster. While Sims is a rookie, the other players are seasoned veterans. Do the Knicks still invest in Robinson with these other players?
My answer is “yes.” Robinson is part of the young Knicks core that includes RJ Barrrett, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride and Cam Reddish. These players are the building blocks of the entire team, as the other roster spots are full of veteran presences. Not extending Robinson would be taking a big chunk out of this young core. Also, as fans have seem from watching the games, there is great camaraderie amongst this young group of guys. So while I don’t know how much the Knicks will offer him, I do think that they will definitely keep him.
Looking Ahead for the Knicks
While this free agency class may be small, it only gets bigger after next season. The next free agency class includes the likes of RJ Barrett, Derrick Rose, Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks, Obi Toppin, Kemba Walker and a number of others. Based on what I said before, I think the Knicks’ priority should be locking up the young guys like Barrett and Toppin. After that I think it all depends on the players. Rose and Burks will be another year older by then, Noel may be replaced by Jericho Sims and Walker may just be another watm body on the bench.
Regardless of what happens over the course of the next season, I think the Knicks could use this time to start making decisions and looking ahead towards the future. Ryan Arcidiacono and Mitchell Robinson will obviously be the two priorities but I think it would be wise for the Knicks to plan ahead. Maybe they give Barrett and Toppin new contract extensions? Maybe they put Walker on the trading block and hope somebody takes him? Either way, the Knicks have their work cut out for them.
So, with a whole summer ahead of the them, it’s time for the Knicks to decide who stays and who goes–starting with this year’s small free agency class.