The New York Knicks will have a minimum of $18 million to spend in free agency this summer. If veteran wing Arron Afflalo decides to opt out of his deal, that number will increase to over $25 million.
This is money the fledgling organization needs in order to improve a substandard roster that saw it win just 32 games this season while finishing with the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference.
President Phil Jackson and new head coach Jeff Hornacek both know additions are needed in order to compete for a playoff spot next season.
It’s in this that the team is expected to go hard after a point guard in free agency.
According to ESPN’s Ian Begley, New York will target Memphis Grizzlies unrestricted free agent Mike Conley as well as Los Angeles Lakers restricted free agent Jordan Clarkson.
This shouldn’t be considered too much of a surprise with the way Knicks point guards performed this past season.
For reasons unknown to the common man, the team trotted out over-the-hill Jose Calderon to start 72 games during the regular year. He responded by averaging just 7.6 points and 4.2 assists in 28 minutes of action.
Rookie first-round pick Jerian Grant started six games and saw substantially more action as the season progressed. Though, he was terribly inconsistent, shooting at just a 39 percent clip from the field.
Both Conley and Clarkson would be seen as major upgrades for the Knicks moving forward.
It must, however, be noted that Clarkson is a restricted free agent. This means that the Lakers can (and likely will) match any offer thrown his way.
The former second-round pick averaged 15.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists while transitioning from point guard to the two with D’Angelo Russell in the mix during the 2015-16 season.
It remains to be seen how New York views Clarkson, but his tendency to shoot first might not be a great fit in the team’s triangle offense.
Conley, on the other hand, would be an absolute coup for the team. Despite an injury-plagued 2015-16 season, he’s a traditional point guard in every sense of the word. The former lottery pick has averaged 15-plus points and five-plus assists in each of the past three seasons.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Though, no one should be surprised if the Knicks are able to add a dramatic upgrade at one of their guard positions.