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) /
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NY Knicks
Nerlens Noel, NY Knicks (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

#3 – Nerlens Noel (Unrestricted Free Agent)

Nerlens Noel was an absolute force for the New York Knicks.

Noel has been a journeyman his entire career, and some of the holes in his game that still exist will likely continue to keep that reputation going. Noel just isn’t quite on the level of being an everyday starting center. This is despite the fact of course that Noel was great in his time starting for the Knicks this season.

With Mitchell Robinson out, Noel stepped in and maintained an elite Knicks defense. He did so by making his way onto the top tier of multiple statistical defensive categories.

Nerlens Noel was:

  • 3rd in blocks per game (2.2)
  • 3rd in total blocks (141)
  • 3rd in defensive win shares (3.6)
  • 1st in defensive box plus/minus (3.5)
  • 2nd in defensive rating (101.2)
  • 15th in steal percentage (2.3)
  • 2nd in block percentage (8.7)

All while playing 27.5 minutes per game in 41 starts. Noel also was the only player in the entire NBA to average at least 2 blocks and 1 steal.

With clearly his best season behind him, Noel could draw offers from teams in need of a starting center. Nobody will blame him for securing a bag in free agency, but hopefully, the Knicks offer him a short-term deal for a bit more annually. Noel just made $5 million this year. Let’s say the Knicks give him a 2 or 3 year deal for about $8 million each year? He has definitely earned it.

Noel owes nothing to this team, but New York owes everything to him for helping to keep the Knicks from going off the rails. Robinson is a very important asset too and can be paid for doing so very soon. Regardless of Robinson’s future with the team, New York should be thrilled if they can retain Noel on a team-friendly deal to re-assume a role of the backup center.