Predicting Every Knicks Free Agent Decision

OG Anunoby

Getty Anunoby celebrates as he walks off the floor.

Now that the focus for the New York Knicks is on the offseason, the franchise can start looking at the NBA free agents list to find ways to improve the club. Teams can officially start negotiating with their own free agents the day after the NBA Finals end, with all other free agents becoming eligible at 6 pm ET on June 30, 2024.

The Knicks have 10 of their own players with contractual decisions pending, most notably OG Anunoby, who has an $18 million player option. Stefan Bondy reported in a New York Post article that Anunoby is likely to opt out, though the Knicks would still be able to re-sign him.

Current Cap Position & Team Needs

The Knicks are coming off a promising 2023-24 season that saw them fight through numerous injuries before falling to the Indiana Pacers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Much of the team is under contract already, with stars Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson not having player options until 2025-26.

At just over $149 million, the Knicks are already over the cap before dealing with free agents and won’t be able to go after any of the top-tier free agents on the market without some financial wizardry. The good news is that the NBA allows teams to go over the cap to sign their own free agents, giving the Knicks the chance to run it back.

Securing the No. 2 seed in the East, the Knicks went 50-32 behind a solid mix of efficient, timely offense, stifling defense and fantastic chemistry, in spite of only getting 46 games out of Randle. Two midseason trades brought in a combination of youth (Precious Achiuwa and Anunoby) and experience (Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks).

It’s nitpicking, but the Knicks would love to address the ghastly 48.7% they allowed on corner 3-pointers during the playoffs, ranking dead last among all teams. That could be a function of defensive strategy, as the Knicks didn’t block many shots and potentially sacrificed the corner looks for additional support in the middle. For what it’s worth, the Knicks also allowed the most 3-point attempts (239) and makes (106) in the playoffs with the shooter being considered wide-open (nearest defender no closer than 6 feet).

Unrestricted Free Agents

Alec Burks

Coming over in a midseason trade from the Detroit Pistons, Burks put together a nice six-game playoff run in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, scoring 14.8 points per game with a shooting line of .500/.429/.844. The problem is, he was horrific during the regular season, resulting in -10.8 points per 100 possessions when he was on the court. He’ll be 33 years old by the start of the season.

Decision: Let him walk.

Isaiah Hartenstein

Hartenstein is one of the more interesting decisions the Knicks will have to make. The 7-footer out of Germany is just 26 years old, coming off his best season as a professional. In just 25.3 minutes per game, Hartenstein averaged 7.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks. The problem is he’s a big that isn’t going to control the paint. In the playoffs, he allowed a whopping 64.8% shooting inside six feet, barely better than the 64.3% he allowed in the regular season. Woof.

Decision: Get him cheap for depth but do not overpay.

Shake Milton

Milton was a midseason buyout acquisition after clearing waivers, and didn’t get much playing time once in New York. He’s only 27 years old, but the Knicks were his third team in a season, with Milton unable to show much of the scoring punch he provided earlier in his career for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Decision: Let him walk.

Club Options

Jericho Sims

The former second-round pick out of Texas hasn’t done much to earn meaningful playing time, but at just 25 years old with a team-friendly $2.09 million option, the Knicks could give him one last look in the absence of signing a veteran at a minimum deal.

Decision: Pick up the option.

DaQuan Jeffries

Every team needs familiar faces that can push the starters in practice, but there’s just not enough here. Jeffries has been waived by the Knicks on three separate occasions, before signing back-to-back 10-day contracts, ultimately earning himself a spot on the roster for the rest of the season. He barely contributed, it’s best to give this spot to another player.

Decision: Let him walk.

Restricted Free Agents

Precious Achiuwa

When frontcourt depth became an issue, Achiuwa was there to pick up the slack. His stats aren’t impressive on their own, but he has the attitude that head coach Tom Thibodeau loves, saying “I pride myself in being a professional, coming in and doing what I have to do. And just when the opportunity comes around, taking advantage of it and play to the best of my abilities.”

Decision: Bring him back within reason. Bench guys who can contribute without consistent minutes are a valuable commodity over the grind of an 82-game season.

Jacob Toppin

The “other” Toppin did very little to show much upside in his rookie season. Even his 11-point outburst against the Orlando Magic in February was marred by an ugly minus-17 court rating.

Decision: Let him walk.

Charlie Brown Jr.

He’s played for five different franchises already, so NBA coaches see some upside, but the 6-foot-6 shooting guard’s scoring ability he had at St. Josephs hasn’t materialized.

Decision: Let him walk.

Duane Washington Jr.

The nephew of NBA Champion Derek Fisher didn’t play in an NBA game this season, but was able to show a decent shooting stroke in his two previous seasons, shooting 37.7% and 36%. Shooting is always in demand in the NBA.

Decision: Bring him back.

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