Knicks rookie must step up in 2024-25 if trade rumor proves true

The New York Knicks selected Tyler Kolek in the second round of the 2024 NBA Draft. One of their rookies may need to step up from the opening tip.
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Indianapolis
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Indianapolis / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

The New York Knicks have epitomized the phrase, "There's no rest for the wicked," in the early stages of the offseason. New York has already traded for Mikal Bridges, re-signed OG Anunoby, and made a mind-numbing amount of trades at the 2024 NBA Draft.

With a rumor surfacing that the Knicks may not be done restructuring the roster, incoming rookie Tyler Kolek could be tasked with stepping up as soon as his first NBA season.

The Knicks traded up to select Kolek at No. 34 overall in the 2024 NBA Draft. It was a celebrated move, as the former Marquette Golden Eagles star is widely regarded as the best passer and one of the top point guards in this class.

Unfortunately, the move could also be an indication of a beloved Knicks guard being on their way out of Manhattan.

Before Kolek was selected, the Knicks parted with Bojan Bogdanovic, four unprotected first-round draft picks, one protected first-round selection, and a pick swap in the trade for Bridges. Due to the fact that Bogdanovic's salary doesn't match Bridges', however, the Knicks run the risk of being unable to re-sign Isaiah Hartenstein.

According to Fred Katz of The Athletic, the Knicks may attempt to clear additional cap space to make the re-signing more likely by including Miles McBride in the Bridges trade package.

"The team discussed the possibility of including Miles McBride in the Bridges trade, according to league sources — and not because they are itching to trade away a 23-year-old fireball on a minuscule contract, only $13 million over the next three seasons. It’s math. If they wanted to, the Knicks could find a third team to route McBride to, acquire a future first-round pick in the process and avoid the first-apron hard cap. His salary plus Bogdanović’s would just barely top Bridges’. But they have since shied away from that scenario, a league source said."

It's encouraging to hear that the Knicks are now attempting to keep McBride in Manhattan, but a move to Brooklyn may still be a possibility.

Knicks could trade Miles McBride, leaving all eyes on Tyler Kolek

New York has taken precautions against having to lose McBride. Its incessant maneuvering at the 2024 NBA Draft cleared enough space for the Knicks to make an offer to Hartenstien of four seasons and $72 million, per Ian Begley of SNY.

If Hartenstein receives a bigger offer, as many expect him to, that could ultimately lead the Knicks to part with McBride in a last-ditch effort to keep their surging center—and ask Kolek to make a name for himself as a rookie.

Kolek, 23, has the tools to be a high-level NBA player. He comes from a tough, defensive-minded culture at Marquette, thus making him a perfect match for Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks. He's also an elite passer with court vision that put him in the same conversation as an all-time great.

Earlier this year, Kolek became the first player to record at least 15 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds in consecutive NCAA Tournament games since Jason Kidd in 1993.

Overall, Kolek averaged 15.3 points, a Division I-leading 7.7 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 1.5 three-point field goals made on .496/.388/.851 shooting. He's comfortable with or without the ball, isn't afraid to take on contact, and has the motor to make Thibodeau an instant fan.

The question is: Is Kolek ready to contribute to a championship-caliber team as soon as his rookie season?

He may need to be.