“We Here”. That was the motto with which the New York Knicks took the league by storm and bounced back to finally show the NBA that one of basketball's most important franchises was finally ready to come back to the spotlight. Sports betting fanatics at first couldn’t believe it but by the end they were all riding the hype that Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks were bringing to the courts game in and game out.
Led by the likes of the surprising rise of now all-star Julius Randle, sophomore sensation RJ Barrett and veteran legend Derrick Rose the Knicks went from being one of the laughing stocks of the NBA to showing once again that New York can play some great basketball, not only Brooklyn. After seeing their season come to a close with a playoff outing at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks, what should the Knicks focus on in the upcoming season to not only continue the hype but build on it?
Should Julius Randle Get His Payday? Sure Thing
If there is one specific player in which to pin the reason for New York’s success this past season it’s PF Julius Randle. The former Laker’s season was nothing short from magical. He was selected to his first All-Star game, won this season’s most improved player award and made the All NBA 2nd team, not bad, not bad at all. With the season over, decisions need to be taken, especially when it comes to the question of what to do with NY’s biggest star.
On the one hand, given that Randle entered this offseason with a four-year-extension worth around $116 million awaiting him there are two roads which he and the Knicks can take. One would be for Randle to deny the option and wait out until the summer of 2022 where he could look into making over $200 million on a five-year extension. The other would be for the Knicks to offer Randle a two-year max extension worth around $55 million which would also make him an eligible candidate for a five-year extension before he turns 30 years old.
What’s most important for both parties here is to be able to reach an agreement, with the first option sounding as the best for all parties included as of right now. Given the facts that New York should strike the iron while it’s hot and Randle should really look into being able to cash out on what could be his only extremely lucrative contract, both parties agreeing is a foreseeable fact for the coming future.
A Free Agency Splash Is Needed But Not At Any Cost
After this last season the Knicks finally became a hot place to go play in again, something that hadn’t happened in some time. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that New York should go crazy in a free agency market that will not be as deep as expected. Yes, some big names could jump into the FA pool, especially if players like Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul decide to opt out of their existing deals and test out the market. But the Knicks should try to focus their energy on big names, yet not as big as those. Guys like Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and even Lonzo Ball could come as very interesting options moving forward.
Even thinking about guys like Mike Conley, Zach LaVine and Buddy Hield should be an easier goal to obtain for New York at this point. The mentality right now is to add to what’s already in house, not break the bank and home for a star. What is of the utmost importance in New York is to find players that can be dominant scorers and a prominent playmaker that can lift the team up.
Time To Put All Their Draft Stock Into Action
The Knicks are sitting quite comfortably in this year’s upcoming NBA draft with 2 picks in the first round (19th and 21st) and a second-round pick as well. Now if you think the Knicks might try to use all of the picks, you might be mistaken. The wisest move here and what appears to be the best route is for New York to use at least one of the three as a bargaining chip to move up in the draft. While the Knicks are not being considered a “win now” team, they don’t also wish to continue travelling down the “process” road for long.
If the Knicks stay with their original pick at 19, they could target guys like Kai Jones, Jared Butler, Isaiah Jackson and Brandon Boston Jr. But if they were to move up, then the floor opens up for New York with the possibility of landing a polarizing talent like Davion Mitchell, Moses Moody and even this year’s draft riser James Bouknight. At the end of it all, the Knicks should really focus on finding a player that is as pro ready as possible to fit into an already young core of players that are ready to make a run for the playoffs again.