If the New York Knicks can sign two max free agents, which under-the-radar point guards are potential options in free agency?
The New York Knicks have made countless efforts all season to produce enough cap space for two max free agents. While it isn’t entirely clear who those two players will be, as it could be anyone from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic one thing is certain; they’re going to need depth around those two max players.
The Golden State Warriors proved in the NBA Finals that it isn’t all about who your top players are but the complementary pieces around them. The Knicks won’t have much cap space to work with besides their mid-level exception and veteran’s minimums, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still find difference makers on the low.
Five days until free agency opens, we will look at players that can be had on cheaper contracts at each position, starting with the point guards:
When you’re playing with the veteran’s minimum you might as well take some risk. It feels like centuries ago when Isaiah Thomas finished fifth in MVP voting and averaged 28.9 points and 5.9 assists, but it was only two seasons ago. Since then the 5-foot-9 point guard was traded from the Celtics to the Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving and then, in the same season, to the Lakers. His time with the Cavs and Lakers were doomed with nagging hip injuries, ending the year with 15.6 points per game.
In the offseason, Thomas signed with the Nuggets at the veteran’s minimum and to say this hasn’t panned out would be an understatement. He spent the first half of the year rehabbing, and when he returned midseason was only in the rotation for 12 games, averaging 8.1 before being benched for the remainder of the year.
One good thing that did come from his time in Denver, Head Coach Mike Malone praised Thomas for how he handled his benching and continued to be a veteran leader for the young team, especially Jamal Murray.
Could Thomas play that same role for another young guard in Dennis Smith Jr.?
The best-case scenario Thomas becomes a shell of what he was with the Celtics, which means he is still a high-quality backup point guard. The worst-case scenario is he sits on the bench and, implementing more veteran leadership for a contending team.