In a vacuum, losing to an eighth-seed in the Eastern Conference Semifinals may be viewed as somewhat of a disappointment, but it’s hard to look back at this season for the New York Knicks and not think of it as a tangible step forward for the team.
Heading into the summer, the hope is that the Knicks can put themselves in a position where they can take another step forward next season. Before we get to the official start of the offseason, we explore a few players that emerged as untouchables for the Knicks and a few players who could’ve perhaps already played their final game in a New York uniform.
3 Knicks that earned untouchable status, 4 that should be cut loose
New York Knicks that earned untouchable status: Josh Hart
You can make the argument that the New York Knicks truly turned the corner this season when they acquired Josh Hart at the NBA Trade Deadline. The Knicks were 23-13 with Hart to close the season, including the playoffs. As he heads into free agency, it would be a huge failure if the Knicks weren’t able to re-sign him.
He was a missing piece that completely changed the dynamic around the team toward the latter portion of the season. The Knicks have to see, at the very least, how his impact extrapolates over the course of an entire season.
In the first round of the playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers, he was an ultimate X-Factor. During those five games, he averaged 12 points and 8.0 rebounds on 56% shooting from the field and 46% shooting from three-point range — all while playing excellent defense on Donovan Mitchell.
He didn’t have as big of an impact against the Miami Heat, but they just ran into a buzzsaw at the wrong time. Hart should be untouchable for the Knicks heading into the offseason. That’s an extension that should be done just after free agency opens this offseason.