With the New York Knicks not currently having a pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, fans have started to shift their attention to free agency. After watching the Knicks shoot a horrid 29.2% in the playoffs, the front office’s priority should be adding shooters to the roster this offseason.
Of course, New York’s main move in free agency should be signing Josh Hart to a new contract. He has a $12.96 million player option for 2023-24 that he said he’s going to decline to become an unrestricted free agent. Hart has made it clear that he wants to stay with the Knicks.
Outside of Hart, there are several other players that New York could add in a free agency class that isn’t stacked but does have some solid shooters. Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley identified three players that the Knicks should consider signing in free agency, but only one of them would be a good option for New York.
Pass or Pursue on Bleacher Report’s 3 New York Knicks free agent ‘sleeper contract’ targets
Let’s get right to it — Patrick Beverley wouldn’t help the Knicks at all with their shooting woes. In the 22 games that he played with the Bulls to finish off the 2022-23 season, he shot 30.9% from three on 3.7 attempts. Beverley isn’t known for his shooting, but instead for his aggressiveness on the defensive end.
Beverley plays with a grit that would ignite the crowd at Madison Square Garden. However, New York doesn’t need to add another guard that struggles to shoot. He checks off the box of being a Tom Thibodeau player, but that isn’t enough. Buckley wrote that he could rediscover “his touch from range.” By no means is that something that the Knicks should bank on happening.
Max Strus, a key part of the Heat’s push to the NBA Finals, is set to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He’s outplayed the $1.8 million that he’s made in 2022-23. The 27-year-old guard averaged a career-high 11.5 points in the regular season and shot 41% from the field and 35% from deep in 80 games. His three-point percentage took a significant dip from the 41% that he averaged in 68 games in 2021-22.
Strus’ play in the postseason has turned him into a popular name in free agency, so much so that it’s been rumored that he could sign a three-year, $25 million deal to remain in Miami. He’s made quite the leap since going undrafted in 2019.
With the money that Strus is projected to make as a free agent and the increased likelihood of him staying with the Heat, the possibility of him signing with the Knicks (or any other team) has dropped. That doesn’t mean that he isn’t a player that New York should no longer consider as a source of shooting in free agency.
Yuta Watanabe signed a one-year deal, $1.8 million non-guaranteed contract with the Nets last summer after being waived by the Raptors. The 28-year-old averaged 5.6 points and shot 49.1% from the floor and 44.4% from three on 2.3 attempts in 58 games. Watanabe turned a discouraging offseason into a career year with Brooklyn.
Watanabe will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and has already been listed as a target for teams like the Warriors and Pistons. He’s a career 39% three-point shooter but averages only 1.8 attempts per game. Watanabe wouldn’t be a bad option off the bench but the Knicks need someone that can be consistent, which is why Evan Fournier was removed from the rotation.
Watanabe would come at a low cost, but he wouldn’t move the needle much for a New York squad that’s in desperate need of shooting.