Fresh off of their first playoff series since 2013, the New York Knicks front office is already hard at work looking at all of the ways this team will be able to take the next step between now and next season.
The obvious, most glaring need is at point guard, with all of Derrick Rose, Elfrid Payton, and Frank Ntilikina headed for free agency this offseason.
Most expect the Knicks to address the position either in the upcoming draft, where they have two first-round picks, or in free agency. But the market is slim on trajectory altering talent, with names like Dennis Schroder and Lonzo Ball headlining the realistic options for New York.
There’s also veteran Kyle Lowry who, now two years removed from a championship run next to Kawhi Leonard, is an unrestricted free agent.
Dependent upon what kind of contract he’s looking for, he could fit the exact mold of what the New York Knicks hope is their starting point guard next season.
Lowry, at 35 years old, finished the regular season averaging 17.2 points, 7.3 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and one steal per game for the Toronto Raptors.
They’re clearly headed a different direction, that much was made apparent when they shopped the point guard at the trade deadline.
The only question now isn’t if Kyle Lowry will swap teams, but simply a matter of who will land the six-time All-Star’s commitment this summer.
Lowry ‘a Perfect Fit’ in New York
In his latest for The Athletic, John Hollinger, former executive of the Memphis Grizzlies, was optimistic about what the New York Knicks are building:
More importantly, the Knicks enter the offseason with an estimated $55 million in cap room, a now-established All-Star in his prime in Randle and several good young players to build around. Combine that with the lure of the Big Apple, and this should be the perfect lure for the Knicks to finally get their superstar free agent!
Unfortunately, as he goes on to note, this offseason isn’t one brimming with superstar talent:
Then you look at this year’s free-agent class and … oh. The Knicks, as luck would have it, can make their best free-agent case in two decades in what is perhaps the lamest free-agent market in two decades.
Hollinger discusses a number of options for the Knicks, including Chris Paul, DeMar DeRozan, and Lonzo Ball. But ultimately, the former NBA executive says the only “perfect fit” is between Kyle Lowry and New York:
There still is one perfect fit, however, in that scenario: Kyle Lowry. A one-year overpay for the max would deliver a gritty point guard who can still play at a high level, while not torching the Knicks’ future.
Projected to be operating with north of $55-million in cap space, a one year overpay for a player of Lowry’s caliber would be harmless to the Knicks’ longterm outlook. It almost makes too much sense, barring any lack of interest in coming to New York on the point guard’s end.
And as has been reported, by both insiders and players alike, it’s looking like Madison Square Garden has regained her stature as a free-agent destination.
Rose: ‘Who Wouldn’t Want to Play in New York?
Following the New York Knicks’ season-ending loss on Wednesday, all of Derrick Rose, Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and Tom Thibodeau spoke with the media about the playoff finale and the future of the team.
But it was the former MVP’s comments that stood out the most. His optimism was unmatched among the group.
Not just about the team and their season, though. No, Rose was as glowing (via Jonathan Macri on Twitter) as he’s ever been about New York and the culture:
That’s not up to me, that’s up to the front office. I’d love to come back…who wouldn’t want to play in New York? Other players in the league feel the same way.
Knicks fans everywhere should take Rose’s comments after the game for all that they’re worth. Still the youngest MVP in league history, today’s generation of players look up to him, admire him, and undoubtedly confine in him.
If Derrick Rose says players are talking about New York with high regard once again, that’s not an empty statement. Expect that somewhere, behind closed doors, those conversations are taking place.
Perhaps Kyle Lowry is listening in on those conversations, or maybe even taking part.