The offseason is here, so here’s a look at a few options at point guard for the Knicks and a few things they may consider as they approach the position during free agency:
HOW DOES DERRICK ROSE FACTOR IN?
As noted last month, some teams keeping an eye on the point guard market feel that Derrick Rose’s strong play for New York will factor in to their approach at the position. Since Rose showed that he’s more than capable of handling 20 minutes per game, those teams wonder if the Knicks will be less inclined to pursue a big-money guard that plays significant minutes. Those teams are speculating, of course. But it’s informed speculation, based on the idea that New York will re-sign Rose and play him at least 15-20 minutes per game. Rose averaged 15 points on 49 percent shooting for New York in the regular season.
If the club eschews the traditional ball-dominant guard this summer, options include Devonte Graham, Lonzo Ball and Kendrick Nunn. All three guards are restricted free agents. The Knicks spoke to New Orleans about a potential Ball trade prior to the deadline but nothing materialized. As recently as late in the regular season, there was no consensus on Ball among Knicks decision makers.
Nunn, per sources, is among the guards who have been on the Knicks’ radar as they consider their offseason plans. Nunn shot 38.1 percent from beyond the arc on nearly six attempts per game this season and shot it remarkably well in the second half of the season. One member of an opposing organization analyzing the market drew a comparison between the 25-year-old Nunn and Terry Rozier, who averaged nine points per game in his last season with the Celtics before signing a three-year, $56 million deal with Charlotte. Rozier’s role increased. His production also increased. The opposing team thought Nunn, who averaged 14.6 points per game last year, could follow a similar path if his opportunities increased.
What could the market be for Nunn? The Athletic’s John Hollinger recently wrote that Nunn should command a contract in the 15 million per year range.
DO JULIUS RANDLE AND RJ BARRETT FACTOR IN?
It would make sense for the Knicks to take Julius Randle and RJ Barrett into account when they think about free agency. New York ran a significant portion of its offense through Randle in 2020-21. His playmaking and shot-making helped boost the Knicks to a 41-win season. If you bring in a guard who needs the ball in his hands to be effective, does that impact Randle? Barrett also was put in a play-making role under Tom Thibodeau. Would Barrett’s opportunities to play off the dribble decrease if New York signed a ball-dominant guard? If the Knicks decide against bringing back Elfrid Payton and/or Frank Ntilikina, these are factors they may have to consider.”
DO YOU GO YOUNG OR OLD?
IF history is any indication, Thibodeau may prefer a veteran guard over a younger player. During the regular season, Kyle Lowry’s name came up internally as a potential target. Earlier in the season, Dennis Schroder’s name also came up. If the Knicks turn to a veteran, the other name to keep an eye on is Chris Paul. Bleacher Report stated on Thursday that Paul is planning to decline his $42 million player option for 2021-22 and seek a multi-year deal worth roughly $100 million. When Paul was on the trade market last summer, several people in the Knick organization viewed him as someone who could help jump-start their culture and help them win games. If Paul becomes available via free agency, you’d think the Knicks at least consider the possibility of signing him. But you’d also think that Phoenix would be highly motivated to bring Paul back.
If you’re wondering why Damian Lillard isn’t as an option, it’s because he isn’t a realistic trade target until/unless he asks Portland for a trade.