New York Knicks: 5 steps for a successful offseason

Scott Perry, Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Perry, Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Feb 29, 2020; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina (11) dribbles as Chicago Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. (34) defends during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

1) Extend Frank Ntilikina

Perhaps no player in Knicks history has generated more conversation and opinion than Frank Ntilikina. Almost everything he does – good, bad or indifferent – is debated with intense passion by Knicks fans on social media.

The latest debate is whether the team should offer him an extension. Ntilikina is entering the final year of his rookie scale contract, making him a restricted free agent next summer. However, the team has the option to extend him this offseason, perhaps gaining a financial advantage by exchanging certainty – a multi-year deal already negotiated – for a team-friendly cap hit over several seasons.

By extending the 2017 lottery pick, New York would also finally overcome the organizational curse of not having signed a rookie to a second contract since Charlie Ward. It might seem like this doesn’t matter in terms of decision-making today, but it does in the sense that Ntilikina would finally represent a young player who has survived multiple regimes (remember, he was technically drafted by Phil Jackson) to develop into a useful piece that is familiar with the complexities of playing at Madison Square Garden.

By failing to invest in their own young players, the Knicks are constantly paying a premium to acquire talent from the outside. Ntilikina is only 22-years-old, he won’t cost a lot to keep, and it could prove expensive and difficult to replace his unique abilities as a defender.

At the right price, his contract would still be moveable in trade, so New York can keep their options open if they ultimately decide he is not the right player for their roster down the road. But right now, it makes sense to lock him up to a team-friendly deal that will keep him in New York beyond next season.