The New York Knicks recently drafted Mitchell Robinson and made Luke Kornet a restricted free agent. Neither player is guaranteed to see significant playing time in 2018-19, however, and both Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn could be allowed to enter free agency.
If it comes to pass that both Kanter and O’Quinn are signing elsewhere, the Knicks should make a strong effort to utilize the mid-level exception on another center: Amir Johnson.
The odds are admittedly slim of Johnson signing with a non-contender, but with teams strapped for cash, he could be asked to make a tough transition from an $11 million salary to the veteran’s minimum. That would pay him just $1,662,176 in 2018-19.
The Knicks, meanwhile, could potentially offer the full mid-level exception of $8,406,000 for Johnson’s defense and veteran leadership.
New York may not be pushing for a championship in 2018-19, but it’s attempting to change the culture. Johnson would help David Fizdale do so, as he ranked No. 9 amongst centers in Defensive Real Plus-Minus in 2017-18, and showed why on film.
Johnson may be a one-year stopgap, but he could play big minutes in a major market while earning a solid salary in preparation for a more lucrative 2019 offseason.