The Knicks have done well to bring back the core pieces of the 2020-21 team that shocked the NBA by earning the Eastern Conference’s No. 4 seed. With the foundation back in place, they’ll look to run it back.
In fact, in 2021-22, they could be even more equipped for success because of the addition of Kemba Walker, whom they signed after he was bought out by the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this month. While the 31-year-old appears to be approaching the downslope of his career after peaking with four straight All-Star Game appearances between 2017-20, he still averaged 19.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists this past regular season (though he averaged only 12.7 points in three postseason games).
And now Walker will have a familiar face backing him up in New York.
The Knicks are signing free agent guard Dwayne Bacon, according to a report from ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. Bacon, a second-round pick by the Hornets in 2017, played for the Orlando Magic this past season after playing alongside Walker in Charlotte between 2017-19.
In Orlando last season, Bacon played alongside another new Knick, Evan Fournier, who signed with New York on a four-year deal worth up to $78 million, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Bacon Gives the Knicks Solid Backcourt Depth
Last season, Bacon averaged 10.9 points (on 40.2 percent shooting), 3.1 rebounds and 0.6 steals in 25.7 minutes per game. He made 0.8 3-pointers per contest, but he shot at only a 28.5 percent clip from beyond the arc.
But perhaps his biggest asset to the Magic was his durability; the 6-foot-6 shooting guard was one of only 11 players in the NBA to play in all 72 regular season games last season.
Along with the built-in chemistry that he has with Walker and Fournier, Bacon will give the Knicks another solid perimeter defender. He’s capable of making big stops against big-time players — like this clutch play when he was matched up against Washington’s Bradley Beal in 2020:
On Twitter, news of the Knicks’ reported acquisition of Bacon was met with widespread approval from fans.
Bacon Has Heaps of Respect for Walker
Bacon should be able to hit the ground running with the Knicks thanks to his previous relationships with Walker and Fournier. When it comes to how he views Walker, it’s clear Bacon holds his former Hornets teammate in high regard.
When Walker left the Hornets for the Boston Celtics in 2019, Bacon detailed Walker’s leadership habits to The Athletic.
“He doesn’t really play video games,” Bacon said. “He’s a guy that’s about business. When the season comes around, he’s locked into the season. The task at hand, that’s what he’s locked into, that’s what he’s willing to sacrifice anything else to finish and complete that mission. So when the season always came around, he was always locked into the season. He didn’t really have time for video games. He’d go back late at night at the gym to put shots up by himself. He’s just one of those types of guys.”
Bacon now brings his chemistry with Walker — and Fournier — to Madison Square Garden.