NY Knicks: Constructing the team’s dream offseason

NY Knicks, 2021 NBA Draft (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NY Knicks, 2021 NBA Draft (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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NY Knicks
Nerlens Noel, NY Knicks (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

NY Knicks use a combination of re-signed players and minimum salaries to fill out their roster

At this point, the Knicks have reached the $112 million salary cap. They still have the Mid-Level ($9.5 million) and Bi-Annual ($3.7 million) Exceptions available to them. They also still have pretty glaring holes at the center position.

The Knicks will move in this order to finish constructing their roster.

Mid-Level Exception: Nerlens Noel ($16 million/2 years)

Fans will point to his inability to catch anything that is thrown in his direction on offense as a reason to avoid Nerlens Noel entirely. I would hear that argument, but present the counter-point that he does exactly what Tom Thibodeau wants his bigs to do on the defensive end. All that will be asked of him will be to protect the rim and occasionally get a putback dunk or two. The Knicks could offer him up to $9.5 million, but they will not use the full exception on him to avoid the luxury tax.

Remaining Mid-Level Exception: Hassan Whiteside ($1.5 million/1 year)

The Knicks will use their remaining Mid-Level Exception money on more depth at center. By doing it this way, the Knicks are able to save their Bi-Annual Exception.

Whiteside seems to fit the Thibs mold at the center position. Last year he averaged 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in only 15 minutes of play. He could easily find those kinds of minutes in the Knicks bench rotation next year, and he will use them productively. That rim protection and rebounding off the bench would be a steal at $1.5 million.

Early Bird Deals: Derrick Rose ($15 million/2 years) and Reggie Bullock ($12 million/2 years)

The Knicks will be interested in bringing back both Derrick Rose and Reggie Bullock to help complete their roster. Bullock would likely start until either Moody or Duarte proved ready for that spot. Rose would slide back into the 6th man role where he was most successful this year as an offensive spark plug.

One-Year Minimum Deals: Taj Gibson and Theo Pinson

They are fan and locker room favorites and a great way to fill out the roster. Gibson also proved in the playoffs that he still has some gas left in the tank when it’s time to win.

That leaves the Knicks with the following roster construction next year:

PG: Lillard

SG: Bullock

SF: Fournier

PF: Randle

C: Noel

6: Rose

7: Toppin

8: Moody

9: Duarte

10: Whiteside

11: Vildoza

12: Gibson

13: Pelle

14: Pinson

When you look at the starting five for most of the final stretch of the season, the Knicks essentially turn RJ Barrett and Elfrid Payton into Damian Lillard and Evan Fournier. The bench unit will again be driven by Rose. Even though the second rotation lost Quickley and Burks, they were replaced by two exciting prospects in Moody and Duarte.

Is this a championship contender? There are no certainties in life, but it certainly looks on paper like a team to watch in the wild Eastern conference.

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