While most believe the New York Knicks would take a more aggressive approach this off-season, they have remained conservative and elected to acquire more draft capital than spend large amounts of cap space on max contracts.
Reports before the draft indicated that the Knicks were open to acquiring bad contracts packaged with draft picks for the future, and while they did do that on a smaller scale, they didn’t really go after names like Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook. This could be viewed as malpractice, or rather the setting of a foundation that focuses on youth development.
The most valuable move the Knicks made came in their acquisition of draft picks. They managed to turn the 35th overall pick in the draft into a selection in 2023 in the second round, in unison with moving up to the 33rd overall pick.
It didn’t end there, as they acquired center Ed Davis from the Utah Jazz, who also gave up two 2023 second-round selections just so the Knicks would consume his remaining money. He was owed $5 million, and the Knicks turned him over and traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves for another selection in the future.
Essentially, president Leon Rose turned one player who never saw the floor in MSG into three future second-round picks.
Now, you might be wondering, what on earth do the Knicks expect to gain from that many second-round picks down the line? Well, they can package them in a potential trade or move up in the draft significantly.
The Knicks are clearly thinking long-term with their free-agent signings this year, signing multiple two-way deals and one-year contracts.
They brought back point guard Elfrid Payton on a one year deal worth $5 million. They also landed free-agent center Nerlens Noel for the same price. This indicates one thing, the Knicks want to get their money off the books in 2021 and re-allocate it toward a better player.
Ultimately, focusing on their youth development is how you set the stage for a rebuild, and acquiring Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley in the draft surely helps their plans.
Some believe the Knicks should have pursued a point guard or pure shooter earlier on in the draft, instead, they landed Ossining, NY, native Toppin, who is a power forward with explosive ability in transition. He has a great prospect with tons of potential but is extremely old for a first-round rookie, at 22. He’s not a pure shooter by any means but offers great value in the paint and is a big body who can create space for shooting guards.
That is where Quickley enters the frame — he’s a fantastic shooter and has plenty of untapped potential. While most believe he will back up Payton at point guard, he could be worked instead similarly to Tim Hardaway Jr. in the past.
“He’s right up there with the hardest workers spending the most time in the gym, most committed players that I’ve ever had,” John Calipari told Empire Sports Media via Zoom call.
“Last year, we went to three guards. I wasn’t doing that early in the year, but as the year went on, I just said, ‘Immanuel Quickley, he needs to be starting.’ That means somebody else couldn’t start. [Quickley] ended up being Player of the Year in our league, but he trusted me to figure it out.”