Ranking Knicks free agents who are most deserving of a new contract

NY Knicks (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
NY Knicks (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
3 of 6
NY Knicks
Taj Gibson, NY Knicks (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

NY Knicks: #5 Taj Gibson (Unrestricted Free Agent)

When Taj Gibson was brought back for a second season in New York, the Knicks season was already underway. This suggests that Gibson hadn’t done enough as a player to prove he can help the Knicks in 2020-21 the first time around. It looked like Gibson could be on his way out of the NBA.

But, leave it up to his traveling companion Tom Thibodeau to help him find his way back with the team. After witnessing what Gibson brought to the team this season, it’s no wonder why Thibodeau felt he can still help the team win games.

Gibson looked refreshed playing under his favorite head coach. He played perfectly to the role of coming in to play quality minutes as the 3rd string center, something he had to do often with the still occasionally foul-prone Robinson as the lead big-man. But more impressively, when Robinson went down twice this year to injuries, Gibson was able to stay steady with an increased load off the bench.

Averaging 20 minutes behind Noel, Gibson had some stellar performances. He even played heavy minutes on a handful of occasions when Noel too was bit by the injury bug. As a result, Gibson finished the year with better numbers across the board, increasing his field goal percentage, rebound, steal and block averages from last year. He even stepped up in the playoffs a bit, starting Game 3 for a banged-up Noel following fantastic showings in Games 1 and 2 during the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

While Gibson was so vital to the team this year, the Knicks can’t continue to operate under the impression that the soon-to-be 37-year-old center can repeat his 20-21 season and play so many minutes. However, Gibson is an awesome veteran presence who showed this season that he can still have some good stuff let in the tank. Him being a Thibs guy alone should see him return in a 3rd string role once again.

NY Knicks: #4 – Reggie Bullock (Unrestricted Free Agent))

There wasn’t a player for the Knicks this year who more perfectly fit the Knicks system in a supporting role than Reggie Bullock. The wing player was the Robin to Julius Randle’s Batman. Bullock made up much of the glue that held the NY Knicks’ offense together.

In his role as the “three and D” forward, Bullock excelled at both. After a 2019-20 season where David Fizdale was satisfied with most of his players, Bullock included, standing around doing nothing, it was great to see Bullock’s shooting abilities unlocked. He came off of screens constantly, on or off ball to get shots up from deep. He even acted as a screener for Randle, freeing up space for himself and his all-star teammate. This allowed for several possessions to start and end with one of the two scoring after a friendly game of catch with the basketball.

And when Randle was dishing the ball on the move or while double-teamed, he was often able to find Bullock open. Bullock cashed in regularly to the tune of 41% and 42.5% from behind the arc on overall threes and catch and shoot threes respectively. Then on defense, he was inspiring as the lead perimeter defensive option. He gave admirable effort and was effective in often being tasked with guarding the opponent’s best offensive guard or wing player.

You can’t have enough 3 & D players in the NBA today. Reggie’s chemistry with Randle by itself is convincing enough for a return. On a new contract, Bullock would potentially be more helpful in a bench role as New York looks for upgrades, but if he can replicate this season’s play in the future, there won’t be too many complaints about how large or small his role will be.