The 2019-20 New York Knicks season ended the same way it has for what feels like an eternity: disappointing, frustrating, embarrassing, and without a playoff appearance.
However, even in this pandemic-shortened season, the Knicks improved from the 2018-19 season. The Knicks finished 21-45, a .318 win percentage, in 2019-20, compared to the 17-65 record with a .207 win percentage from 2018-19, which tied the franchise-worst set in 2014-15.
Surely, the disappointment for the Knicks started well before the 2019-20 season began.
Knicks fans everywhere were on cloud nine with the possibility of winning the lottery and signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Things quickly soured when Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum announced the Knicks drew the third pick, thus missing out on the Zion Williamson Sweepstakes.
Things got even worse for Knicks fans on June 29, 2019, at 6:00pm EDT when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted of Kyrie Irving’s intent to sign with the crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets.
Then, not even 24 hours later, on June 30, 2019, at 4:52pm EDT, Wojnarowski tweeted of Kevin Durant’s intent to join Irving in Brooklyn.
Sources: Durant will sign a 4-year, $164M deal with the Nets; Irving will sign 4-years, $141M.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Knicks fans were heartbroken but were sure the team would sign the next best option, Bronx native Kemba Walker. However, on June 30, 2019, at 6:00pm EDT, 24 hours after the Irving news and one hour and 12 minutes after the Durant news, Wojnarowski tweeted of Walker’s intent to sign with the Boston Celtics. This decision left New Yorkers and Knicks fans with their eyes bulging out their head in disbelief and their hands on their head.
The Knicks were forced to settle yet again and signed multiple power forwards in Taj Gibson, Julius Randle, and Bobby Portis along with guards Reggie Bullock, Wayne Ellington, and Elfrid Payton. Small forward Marcus Morris also signed with New York.
Mercifully for fans, that type of offseason won’t be happening again. The lack of superstars in this year’s free-agent class will not cause heartache to Knicks fans, but it may lead to a massive overpay by the Knicks front office.
According to Spotrac, the Knicks currently have $5,589,663 to work with this offseason in the salary cap. But, Portis’ contract contains a team option for this year. If the Knicks decide to decline the option on Portis’ contract, that will free up $15,750,000. That would equal to $21,339,663.
Now, let’s hypothetically say Theo Pinson’s non-guaranteed contract is scrapped by the Knicks, the Knicks could have $23,041,256 in cap space.
With that, here are some players the Knicks could look to sign with that available money.
The name ought to sound familiar to Knicks fans as the Italian was drafted the sixth pick of the 2008 NBA Draft by New York. His short time in the Big Apple could be deemed successful for a young player as he averaged 12.4 points per game in his 157 games as a Knick.
After a rookie year marred by back problems, Gallinari’s proved to fans why he was picked so high. In his sophomore season, Gallinari played in 81 games, starting in 74 of those and averaged 15.1 PPG. He was even better in his third season in New York, but he was sent to Denver in the blockbuster trade that sent All-Star Carmelo Anthony to New York.
His most successful season in Denver was the 2012-13 season where he averaged 16.2 PPG on 42% shooting from the field. In 2017, he was traded again, this time to the Los Angeles Clippers. He played only two seasons in SoCal where he averaged 17.5 PPG, including a career-high 19.8 PPG in 2018-19.
He was once again involved in a blockbuster trade that sent him and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to Oklahoma City in exchange for All-Star Paul George. In his lone season in OKC, he averaged 18.7 PPG on 44% from the field and 40% from deep. Gallinari just turned 32 on August 8.
His Thunder continues their run in the NBA Bubble as they are the five-seed and will be taking on the Houston Rockets in a very interesting first-round matchup in the playoffs.
The former Wichita State guard has made quite the name for himself in the NBA. After a successful college career alongside former Knick Ron Baker, VanVleet went undrafted in 2016 and signed with the Toronto Raptors for the Summer League. After impressing the front office, he was rewarded with a multi-year deal and made the Raptors opening day roster. In his rookie year, the six-foot-even VanVleet had to battle with Cory Joseph and Delon Wright to be the backup to All-Star Kyle Lowry.
Yet, VanVleet played 37 games, averaging 2.9 PPG in 7.9 minutes per game. In his second year, Joseph left Toronto which meant he had to battle with just Wright to become Lowry’s backup. The Raptors looked to him as he played in 76 games in 2017-18, averaging 8.6 PPG on career-highs 43% from the field and 41% from behind the arc in 20 minutes per game.
In 2018-19, VanVleet played in 64 games, including the first 28 starts of his career. He averaged 11 points per game that season that was capped off with a championship. This season, VanVleet averaged career highs 17.6 PPG in 35.7 minutes per game, shooting 41% from the field and 39% from behind the arc. VanVleet will turn 27 in February.
His Raptors continue their run in the NBA Bubble as they are the two-seed and will be playing the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs.
Another player who spent all four years in college who the Knicks could look at is the 2019 NBA Three-Point Contest Winner. After being selected in the second round by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2014 NBA Draft, Harris played in 51 games his rookie year, starting in just one, where he averaged just 2.7 points per game in 9.7 minutes per game. His sophomore season was a loss as he played in just five games before being lost for the season due to a foot injury that required surgery.
He was traded after his surgery to the Orlando Magic, who waived him after the acquisition. He then found a home in Brooklyn. In 2016, he signed a two-year deal with the Nets and in his first season, he played in 52 games, starting 11, and averaged 8.2 points per game in 21.9 minutes per game. In his second season, he proved that he can be capable and durable for the NBA’s 82 game season as he played 78 games, starting in 14 and averaging 10.8 points per game on 49% shooting from the field, 42% from three-point and 83% from the free-throw line in 25.3 minutes per game. This led to him being rewarded with a two-year extension.
His career really took off in 2018-19. He started in all 76 games he played, averaging 13.7 points per game in 30.2 minutes per game and shooting an astounding 50% from the field, 47% from the arc, which led the league, and 83% from the free-throw line. This season, Harris is averaging 14.5 points per game on 49% shooting from the field, 42% from three, and 72% from the stripe in 69 games. Harris will turn 29 on September 6.
His Nets continue their run in the NBA Bubble as they are the seven-seed and will be taking on the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Find out who the pros are picking to land in New York with the Knicks!
Just hear me out.
Ever since leaving New York, it’s been tough for Carmelo Anthony. Even disrespectful. After New York traded him to Oklahoma City Thunder, he averaged 16.2 points per game on 40% shooting from the field in his 78 starts. For a starter, that’s not ideal, but for a player coming off the bench, that isn’t horrendous. He was traded by the Thunder after that lone season to the Atlanta Hawks, who bought him out. Anthony then signed to team up with James Harden and Chris Paul and the contending Houston Rockets. That move also reunited him with former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. However, the relationship between the Rockets and Anthony never materialized.
Anthony played in just 10 games for the Rockets, starting twice, and averaging 13.4 points per game on 40% shooting. He was traded to the Chicago Bulls and waived. He then spent a year and a half away from basketball before being picked up by the Portland Trail Blazers. In 58 starts, Anthony managed to average 15.4 points per game on 43% shooting from the field and 84% from the free-throw line.
In the bubble, Anthony has shown he still has something left in the tank. The Knicks signing him would be a good idea, but only if he accepts a role as a sixth man. But, the Anthony signing should be for whatever is left in cap space after they sign one of the three mentioned above.
Also, for nostalgic purposes and maybe ending his career as Knick, some would like to see that.
His Trail Blazers continue their run in the NBA Bubble as they are the eight-seed and will be taking on the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
You add the filling out of the roster, make it look attractive, develop Mitchell Robinson, RJ Barrett, Frank Ntilikina, and Kevin Knox, then maybe you can look to sign a big-time free agent in 2021 when the Knicks are expected to have loads of money to spend.
It all can really be so easy and hopefully, the new front office knows this and executes.
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