New York Knicks: A fan’s reaction to this offseason

NY Knicks, Paul George, Myles Turner (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
NY Knicks, Paul George, Myles Turner (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
New York Knicks, Leon Rose
New York Knicks, Leon Rose (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Leon Rose’s second offseason with the New York Knicks brought mixed reviews. As a fan, I chronicled the highs and lows of this summer.

Context is key. Whatever team-building philosophy you subscribe to, you have to be willing to adjust and change course based on the market and the trends of the NBA. The Knicks did that.

Initially, reports from various beat writers suggested that the Knicks were dead set on preserving cap space for the 2022 offseason, featuring, at the time, top players like Bradley Beal, Steph Curry, and Zach LaVine. Curry recently inked a four-year extension worth $215 million, and the Bulls, in an effort to build around LaVine, signed Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and DeMar DeRozan to complement their All-Star wing scorer and Nikola Vucevic.

Both Beal, who has a player option for next season, and LaVine, who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, are technically still on the board. However, if the Bulls make the jump that some expect them to make, LaVine’s future in Chicago could be extended.

Still, when reports surfaced that the New York Knicks had committed decent money and multiple years to players like Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, Derrick Rose, and Evan Fournier, I wasn’t pleased.

My reaction was guided in part, by the amazing article from Yaron Weitzman, which really gave fans their first insight into the Leon Rose regime and the decision-making process. Essentially, one of the key parts focused on the divide between Brock Aller and Tom Thibodeau. Thibs, as you can imagine, wanted to sell off every asset from win-now pieces, and Aller, who Thibs hilariously referred to as “Hinkie” was in favor of a more “Trust-the-Process” approach.

My fear was that Thibs, after a 41-win season, gained a lot of leverage in his roundtable talks with the front office, and that he was positioned to really prioritize the now rather than the future.


As Jonathan Macri penned in his daily Knicks Film School newsletter, teams around the league can no longer rely on big stars to leave their teams in free agency. Stars will want to lock in their money first, monitor how their team builds around them, and force a trade to a preferred destination. As a result, the New York Knicks pivoted and focused on building a perennial winner.

Add on the fact that, all of the Knicks (excluding Kemba Walker) signed this offseason have team options built into the last year of their deals (as opposed to the rumored partially or fully guaranteed deals), and I was much better about Leon Rose’s offseason.

With that said, there are still some questions that are reasonable to ask. The first being the health of both Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose.

Walker is coming off a reason in which he played just 43 games, and did not play on the second-leg of back-to-backs. After dealing with nagging knee injuries that have plagued him over the past two seasons, it’s more than reasonable to question Kemba’s availability and what type of production we’ll see for him this season. In speaking with Marc Berman of the New York Post, Dr. Wellington Hsu, professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Northwestern University, claimed that an arthritic or degenerative knee issue may actually be worse than an ACL tear.

"“An ACL injury, that ligament will heal and be as strong as it was for basketball,’’ he said. “That cartilage wear and tear is more risky, more concerning.’’"

Furthermore, Derrick Rose, who played 1279 minutes last season, albeit a lower amount when compared to the previous two seasons, cannot average over 25 minutes a game (as he did this past season) with his history of knee injuries.

Yet the Knicks will be counting on both players to share the scoring load and take pressure off of both RJ Barrett and Julius Randle.

The second question will be on the defensive end. While it’s true that Elfrid Payton’s reputation as a defensive guard is a bit fraudulent, the potential pairing of Walker and Fournier isn’t exactly a defensive stalwart either.  Fournier will be looking to return to his form from the 2018-2019 season, where both he and former head coach Steve Clifford agreed that he was more engaged and attentive to details defending on the ball and on close-outs.

Walker’s is also a mixed bag on the defensive end. As the Athletic’s Jay King points out, the Celtics were ranked fourth in defensive efficiency with Walker logging big minutes at point guard during the 2019-2020 season. Additionally, my go-to-guy for everything Celtics Matt Esposito also paints a fairly positive picture of Walker with some caveats.

"When fully healthy Kemba can be pesky. He can be handsy and gutsy and isn’t afraid to put his body on the line for charges. Plus he keeps an eye on passing lanes. But because of his size and stature a lot of teams target him during pick and rolls. If he’s defending other team’s best guard then you’re in trouble. That being said, he’ll give good effort in prime times games and when you get frustrated with his defense it’ll be mostly about physical limitations, not heart."

At the end of the day, fans will take that risk/reward based on the two-year contract Walker signed with the New York Knicks.

Finally, we come to Julius Randle. The former Kentucky standout cemented himself as a key piece of the Knicks’ future when he put pen to paper on a four-year $117 million extension. In the process, he also saved the orange and blue a ton of money, which will enable the front office to build a contender around him, without being hamstrung by his contract. Randle channeled all the great quarterbacks in the NFL who have helped their teams by restructuring their contracts. Leadership personified.

Much like the newest album from Tyler The Creator, “Call Me If You Get Lost”, it was not until I listened to it a second time that I fully appreciated this collection of songs as a decent album, still with some questions and criticisms. Essentially a no harm, no foul 6.5-7 out of 10. I feel the same about this Knicks offseason. Their options were not great, but they upgraded in some key areas, without breaking the bank.

Now let’s see what Thibs can do.

Next. 3 reasons why Kendrick Nunn will regret choosing the Lakers. dark