New York Knicks: 5 Under-the-Radar Free Agents to target this summer

Cameron Payne, New York Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Cameron Payne, New York Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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New York Knicks
Cameron Payne, New York Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

New York Knicks: 5 under-the-radar free agents – Cameron Payne

Payne is one of the league’s best stories this season. He was drafted by the Thunder 14th overall in 2015 but struggled to find a niche and within a few years found himself bouncing around the G-League and internationally.

Payne was coming off a pandemic-shortened 2020 season spent between the G-League and China when Monty Williams reached out to him. Williams had been an assistant coach with the Thunder during Payne’s first years in the league and wanted to offer his former player a second shot in the Orlando bubble.

Payne shined during the Suns’ undefeated 8-0 bubble run, averaging 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists on 52 percent from 3. He’s been a mainstay in Phoenix ever since, now the sixth-man on a Suns team that could be on the verge of making the NBA Finals.

Payne would be for the Knicks something they have lacked for a long time — a point guard that can actually shoot the ball. That alone is a big step up from what the Knicks currently have. There will be no concern about fitting in, neither; Payne is a guy who has paid his dues and is willing to put in the necessary work to improve and win.

He may ultimately be more of a depth piece than a high-level starter, but he has proven that he can produce in an important bench role on a championship contender. He’s exactly the kind of role player you want around the superstar talent the Knicks are looking to target during the next few years.