While last summer was marked by a splashy move (Jalen Brunson) and surprising indecision (Donovan Mitchell) for the Knicks, this offseason figures to be a bit more about the herding of cats for the team’s roster, figuring out how to keep as much of the team together and aimed at continued growth following last year’s 47-35 record and first-round playoff win over Cleveland.
And central to that could be one player who started last year on the trade block but finished as an almost untouchable piece in New York: guard Immanuel Quickley.
After averaging 14.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists last year, Quickley will be up for a fourth-year contract extension, one that is not likely to take place until we get closer to training camp. And just how much the Knicks agree to give him should say a lot about where the team intends to take the roster in the future.
Don’t expect Quickley to look for a hometown discount. “He is going to want nine figures,” one league executive told Heavy Sports. “And that’s for four years. I can’t say the Knicks will go that high but they might have to. He is not a guy you want to send to restricted free agency.”
Quickley’s Situation Compared to Jaylen Brown
Indeed, if the Knicks were to start the 2023-24 season without having Quickley locked up to an extension, he would become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2024. It’s doubtful that Quickley’s value will go down this season—he averaged 21.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists, shooting 40.1% from the 3-point line after the All-Star break—so it makes sense for the team to get a contract locked up before Quickley doubles down on his sterling second-half showing.
One GM compared Quickley’s situation to that of Jaylen Brown in Boston in 2019. Brown had begun to show star potential but had averaged just 13.0 points and 4.2 rebounds in his third year. The Celtics put forth what looked like an overpay—four years, $106 million—based on Brown’s numbers to get him signed, but the deal soon became a bargain as Brown blossomed into an All-Star.
Quickley, similarly, has more potential than his numbers suggest. But he also plays for a team that has big investments in the backcourt—$104 million over four years to R.J. Barrett and $77 million over three years for Jalen Brunson, the last of which is a player option.
Free-agent Josh Hart, who formed a nifty off-the-bench tandem with Quickley, is expected to re-sign with the Knicks, too, on something in the range of a three-year, $60-70 million contract. That gives the Knicks an investment of $70 million per year in the backcourt, not counting the one year on Evan Fournier’s deal and the fates of Miles McBride (2024 free agent) and Quentin Grimes (2025, most likely).
Knicks’ Payroll Could Be Imbalanced
That’s the one caveat on a potential Quickley contract: There just might not be room for these backcourt payouts. Giving Quickley $25 million per year would put the Knick around $100 million worth of deals for four guard spots, though Hart—despite being just 6-foot-4—plays forward a fair bit.
Still, an extension for Quickley would not kick in until next season, and he will be a bargain at $2.6 million for next season no matter what happens. The situation will create a guard logjam, but the Knicks will have a year to get it sorted.
“Pay him now, while you can still negotiate and play a little hardball,” the executive said. “Then come back and see if there is a trade to be made with one of your other guards. That’s really their only choice.”