The 6 p.m. NBA deadline has passed and the Knicks failed to reach a contract extension agreement with point guard Immanuel Quickley, who now heads to restricted free agency next summer. It is not an enormous surprise, as Quickley was looking for a nine-figure payday—as sources told Heavy Sports he would do during last season—and the Knicks were just not prepared to go that high.
The Knicks’ best offer, according to one league executive was, “not really close,” to what Quickley was seeking. Now, Quickley will need to build upon his success from last season to ensure he gets the big payday he wants next summer.
What remains to be seen is whether that payday will come in New York or elsewhere. The Knicks, presumably, will retain his rights when his contract expires after this year, unless he is traded or the team fails to make a qualifying offer.
“It is a business decision on his part,” the exec told Heavy Sports. “He has to put up the numbers again now, that is his end of the bargain. And his agent needs to find the team that’s willing to pay him. That might be the harder part.”
Immanuel Quickley Wanted $100M-Plus in Knicks Contract Extension
First, the numbers. Quickley felt he was deserving of a sizable Knicks contract extension because of the production he put up once he became a fixture in the lineup.
Quickley went from all but out of the rotation early last year to one of the best players the Knicks had in a crowded New York backcourt. In the 25 games after the All-Star break, Quickley averaged 21.0 points on 46.6% shooting and 40.1% 3-point shooting. He added 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists.
If he can keep up that level of production, he will warrant a big payday next summer. The problem for Quickley will be navigating a guard logjam, with star point guard Jalen Brunson and Quentin Grimes expected to start, and free-agent signee Donte DiVincenzo expected to come off the bench with Quickley.
Anfernee Simons was one of the players Quickley could use as a comp, the exec said. They are the same age and had similar stats on a per-36-minute basis. Simons was given a four-year, $100 million contract by Portland in 2022. “He probably looks at that and says, ‘I’m better than him, I want that,’ and he should,” the exec said. “It does not always work out like that, though, that’s the problem.”
Teams More Comfortable in Restricted Free Agency
Increasingly, teams are getting more comfortable sending players to restricted free agency, even ones that are clearly deserving of extensions. Players find it very difficult to find offers as restricted free agents, so teams can simply wait them out and sign them at relative bargain prices—Austin Reaves, P.J. Washington, Ayo Dosunmu and Grant Williams (via sign-and-trade) all signed for lower-than-expected prices.
“The idea is supposed to be, you get an offer, we can match it or not,” the executive said. “But the offers are not there. Why would I, as a team, give you an offer I know is going to be matched? There’s no advantage in it for me.
“Now, it has been like that for a long time, but the thing used to be, we did not like sending players to restricted free agency because we did not want to hurt the relationship with the player. Now, there is the tax and there are the (tax) aprons, there are players demanding trades while they’re under contract—the dynamics have changed. I don’t know that teams worry about the relationship that much.”
It was not something, apparently, that the Knicks worried about with Quickley. The two sides will have to just let it play out from here.