Grading the New York Knicks free agents as the signings continue through the open market.
The New York Knicks opened 2019 NBA Free Agency with $70 million to spend. None of it went to the superstar players, as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signed with the Brooklyn Nets, but they still added pieces to fill a wide-open roster.
The aftermath is the reaction to these players arriving. While they will not suit up for New York until October’s preseason, their impact, and whether the front office paid a worthwhile amount of money, can be speculated now.
Less than 24 hours into free agency, how do the Knicks’ free agents grade out? Let’s take a look, with updates ahead as players continue to sign:
This was not a superstar signing, but Julius Randle proved to be the New York Knicks’ biggest free-agent acquisition after 6:00 p.m. ET. They gave him a three-year, $63 million contract, with a team option for 2020-21.
Randle seemingly steps in as New York’s starting power forward, playing alongside Mitchell Robinson in the frontcourt. It upgrades this spot, formerly held by Noah Vonleh, Lance Thomas and Luke Kornet in spurts.
Adding over 20 points per game, the Kentucky product will take one of the top scoring spots. Depending on Kevin Knox and RJ Barrett’s respective development, he might be their leading player in the box score. Add eight rebounds per game, and the numbers will look satisfying.
Randle’s outside game is trending up after taking 150 more three-pointers than he ever had in a season in 2018-19. If that continues, the Knicks will have a stretch four that can cause damage at all parts of the court. Trending down, though, is his defense.
The average annual value of $21 million is high, but if considered a two-year pact due to the team option, it is not a long-term commitment for the Knicks to make. They can track his development from age 24 to 26, nearing those prime seasons that usually result in an NBA player’s greatest statistical output.
If Randle takes another step from his New Orleans run, this is a fine signing for the Knicks. It was about the best they could do without signing the superstars, and their unwillingness to pay a max contract to anyone lesser factored in here.