Knicks’ Key New Addition Not Guaranteed to Earn Roster Spot: Report

New Knicks wing Dwayne Bacon

Getty New Knicks wing Dwayne Bacon

When the Knicks signed Dwyane Bacon to a deal earlier this summer after he was waived by the Magic, the assumption was that he could be written into the team’s 15-man roster for the season. In fact, it was reasonable to assume that Bacon would be the top backup at one of the wing positions, either behind R.J. Barrett at shooting guard or Evan Fournier at small forward.

But it turns out, according to a report in the New York Post, that Bacon’s spot on the roster—not to mention in the rotation—is shakier than most originally thought. When the team signed Bacon, it was to an Exhibit 10 contract, a non-guaranteed minimum-salary deal usually reserved for undrafted rookies and G-League candidates.

Though Bacon has four years of NBA experience, his new contract allows the Knicks to waive him in training camp but keep him on as an “affiliate player” with the team’s G-League contingent in Westchester.

Bacon Had a Career-Best Season in Orlando

The contract does give the Knicks some roster flexibility, and it is odd that a player of Bacon’s experience level would agree to sign it, especially early on in the free-agency process. Bacon’s signing was first reported on August 9 and it is possible his camp was nervous about securing a place for 2020-21, and was willing to concede the Exhibit 10 status so that Bacon was ensured a spot.

It is doubtful that the Knicks will waive Bacon, who was a starter with the Magic last season after spending his first three years with the Hornets. He averaged a career-best 10.9 points and 25.7 minutes, but struggled badly with his shooting, making only 40.2% from the field and 28.5% from the 3-point line.

Bacon played four positions for the injury-ravaged Magic last year, but got most of his minutes on the wing. That versatility could help the Knicks’ bench, which has some question marks, next season.

Before landing in Orlando, Bacon spent three seasons with the Hornets, where he averaged 5.3 points on 40.3% shooting and 34.5% 3-point shooting.

Knicks Have Bench Depth — Except on the Wings

With the addition of Kemba Walker and the return of Derrick Rose, the Knicks are three-deep at the point guard spot. They’re also three deep at power forward (Julius Randle, Obi Toppin, Kevin Knox) and center (Mitchell Robinson, Nerlens Noel, Taj Gibson).

But wing depth could be a problem. With Fournier and Barrett slated as the starters, the only proven backup on the roster is veteran wing Alec Burks. Rookies Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride could see minutes this season.

That is probably why Bacon agreed to take the Exhibit 10 deal—it is a longshot that the Knicks will dump him, not when the team’s depth is so limited on the wing. And, ultimately, if Bacon comes in and continues to shoot below 30% from the 3-point line, the Knicks have the flexibility to drop him and find another option.

Still, it is a surprise. Even with his poor shooting, Bacon has shown himself to be a decent two-way player who can handle multiple positions. He ought to stick on the roster all season.


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