Kadeem Allen made the most of his New York Knicks opportunities in 2018-19. With a roster overturn, where does he fit in this second go-around?
Two-way players were the surprise of the New York Knicks season. Isaiah Hicks stayed put as a last man for the bench and a G League factor, but Allonzo Trier, who received this contract type after the 2018 NBA Draft, never appeared for the Westchester Knicks and became one of the team’s brightest pieces.
Trier eventually received an NBA contract, which opened a spot for Kadeem Allen, a training camp invitee months prior. He was 26 years old, with a brief run with the Boston Celtics beforehand.
Yet again, though, the Knicks struck with a two-way player; Allen averaged 9.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists on 46.1 percent shooting and 47.2 percent on three-pointers, including a February 11 game of 25 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The playing time opportunity arrived when Trey Burke left for Dallas and the injuries Emmanuel Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina suffered. The roster was thin, so it opened chances for seemingly bottom-of-the-rotation players like Allen. This time around, that might not be so easy.
The Knicks have a potentially-healthy Dennis Smith Jr. back, Elfrid Payton on a free agent contract and Frank Ntilikina, despite trade rumors, is still on the roster as August 1 nears. Smith and Payton are in for 20-plus minutes per game, while Ntilikina, whose situation is clouded, can break through as one of the few defensive-minded players this team has.
Allen is already behind as a two-way player, since the Knicks may only keep him on the main roster for up to 45 days. No matter how much head coach David Fizdale loves him, using that allotted time too soon, without an NBA contract, can eliminate the Arizona product’s impact early.
Sure, Allen may have more standout games, but the Knicks have a cluttered roster of guaranteed contracts, that offers little wiggle room. Injuries happen, and he does not count towards the 15-man roster, but digging for playing time may only arise if another pair of point guard ailments happen, again.
Ntilikina proved injury-prone last season, Payton missed nearly half the year with his own issues with the New Orleans Pelicans, and Smith had a back injury that took him off the court down the stretch. So, the possibility is there for Allen to sneak in, if not for a few games at a time.
For Allen to make a full-time appearance on the NBA roster and receive a contract, ensuring his role, it will likely take a trade of someone like Ntilikina or one of the recent free-agent signings at the February deadline. The latter means the Knicks are out of the postseason picture, so if another youth movement happens as a result, it would be in his best interest.
Allen played well enough to join the New York Knicks roster, but the offseason proved otherwise for his potential standing. He is worth giving a longer look on an NBA contract, but unless the 15-man group changes in the next 60 days, that probably will not happen to open the 2019-20 campaign.