Knicks Urged to Sign NBA’s ‘Premier’ Playmaking PG

Tyus Jones

Getty Tyus Jones handling the ball during a March 14 game against the Houston Rockets.

There’s no greater need for the New York Knicks roster than a capable playmaker behind Jalen Brunson. Free agent guard Tyus Jones is a qualified fit.

Fred Katz of The Athletic wrote as much in a column canvassing free agent candidates for the Knicks’ mid-level exception.

“He’s the league’s premier assist-to-turnover guard,” Katz wrote on June 11. “Could play alongside Brunson in the right lineups, is coming off his best season ever and would know what to expect from Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, who he played for with the Minnesota Timberwolves.”

Jones averaged 12 points, 7.3 assists and 1.1 steals in 66 appearances for the Washington Wizards this season.

A starter on a 14-67 team, he could play a big role off the bench for a New York team that won 50 games this season.

According to Cleaning the Glass, New York was outscored by 5.4 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs with Brunson off the floor.

They scored 108.4 points per, ranking them in the 14th percentile.

On the flip side, with Brunson on the floor, the Knicks outscored opponents by 1.5 points per, and the offense put up 121.1 points per. That’s good for the 86th percentile.

Whether it means Julius Randle playing in lineups with the second unit or signing a qualified guard like Jones, the Knicks will have to address playmaking this offseason.

Can the Knicks Afford Tyus Jones?

Katz’s piece centers on players New York could afford this summer with the mid-level exception. Whether or not Jones is in that tier remains unclear.

Jones has 2,593 assists to 466 career turnovers. And coming off a career year with the Wizards, he’s in line for a payday. His last deal paid him $29 million over two years.

“But Jones also may be too expensive,” Katz wrote. “He makes more than the mid-level exception already. Meanwhile, the Wizards elected not to trade him leading into the deadline, meaning a push to re-sign him is likely. Washington doesn’t want to lose the player for nothing, can pay to keep him and isn’t trying to win today.”

Jones is a unrestricted free agent. So what Washington’s intentions are won’t limit his options as though he were restricted.

It will boil down to his preferences: what he’s looking for in a role, a salary and a living situation. New York can offer him security with a multi-year deal and a backup role to one of the NBA’s best point guards in its biggest market.

Katz Lists Kyle Lowry as Another Option

Jones isn’t the only point guard who could conceivably land with the Knicks for the mid-level exception.

Katz went on to list future Hall of Famer Kyle Lowry as an option.

Lowry is coming off of his 18th NBA campaign, and at 38 years old is looking for his second career championship. Katz wrote that New York was in play for the veteran before he signed with the Philadelphia 76ers midseason.

“Lowry was on the Knicks’ list after a buyout with the Charlotte Hornets last winter, according to league sources,” Katz wrote. “Though he eventually signed with the 76ers.”

The 38-year-old has one thing in common with Brunson in that they both thrive on the defensive side of the floor in one area specifically, drawing charges.

“Lowry plays an aggressive style that would fit in well with New York’s defensive identity, though he can’t run an offense like he once did,” Katz wrote. “He’s 38 and another season won’t make him any sprier, though he will never stop taking charges.”

Brunson finished the regular season second only to Golden State Warriors rookie Brandon Podziemski in charges drawn with 35. He led the playoffs with 6.

Lowry finished the regular season with 19 charges drawn. His pesky defensive would be a seamless fit on this gritty Knicks roster.

Like all of Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, and Josh Hart, Lowry is a University of Villanova product. Teaming up with some fellow alumni on a team with championship aspirations seems fitting for year 19.

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