New York Knicks: Kyle Lowry contract continues to close 2020 free agency

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Yet another contract extension will limit 2020 NBA free agency, potentially deciding for the New York Knicks what to do with their own players.

When the New York Knicks gave 2020-21 team options or partial guarantees to five of their seven free agents, they kept the flexibility to make roster moves next July or to just maintain the status quo. By 2021, the 15-man group will inevitably implode when an historic free-agent class arrives.

Well, for the opportunity to make significant changes in 2020, another player just exited the market. Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Toronto Raptors will give Kyle Lowry a one-year, $31 million extension that takes him to 2021 free agency.

The 2020 class was never strong, to begin with; Anthony Davis always headlined it, but that was where the list of stars started and finished. Plus, this top big man only joined the Los Angeles Lakers three months ago via trade, after essentially demanding to leave for Hollywood from New Orleans. Of course, if it does not work, he can leave in free agency, but playing alongside LeBron James may be his best playing situation yet.

The class breaks down from there, with already transpired events and projections for what could happen in-season, before free agency happens:

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After that, Gordon Hayward, who did not play well upon a full year return from surgery, is the next-best player, and even he has a player option.

The Knicks do not know what Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Marcus Morris, Wayne Ellington, Elfrid Payton and Reggie Bullock will bring just yet; Randle is the only player of that group contracted to return for a second season, but based on who may be available in July 2020, there is no reason to write off the recent signings as impending departures just yet.

Not all of them may return, especially Morris, who is the only player without any contractual option. A complete roster comeback for 2020-21 is possible but unlikely and could hinge on how this team plays before the trade deadline, when the chance arrives to unload pieces for draft picks if the season goes awry.

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That will be the situation to write off players; it may be time to do that for 2020 free agency immediately, though, and conserve for the game-changing class. That has been said once before, however, and the New York Knicks struck out. Nothing is guaranteed for the future.