What the New York Knicks have accomplished this season is nearly unprecedented, leading a lot of people to question what’s next for the NBA’s most promising franchise.
That conversation starts with free agency, which as recently reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania, will open up at the beginning of August.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 19, 2021
New York can open up nearly $50-million in cap space, so once again they’ll rule the headlines. But is this year the one where they land their star?
DeMar DeRozan to New York?
In his latest for Bleacher Report, Top Landing Spots for NBA’s Best 2021 Free Agents, Grant Hughes went through the top upcoming free agents and predicted their next destinations.
For the New York Knicks, he sees an outcome where DeMar DeRozan ends up in the orange and blue next season:
New York can’t score; DeRozan can.
Obviously, you don’t fix an offense just by targeting a player with a high scoring average (DeRozan is at 21.1 this year; 20.1 for his career), and the four-time All-Star’s aversion to three-point shooting definitely wouldn’t address one of the Knicks’ key failings this season. However, DeRozan has been above the league average in true shooting percentage in each of the past two seasons.
Hughes isn’t wrong. The Knicks have been one of the worst scoring teams in the entire NBA this season.
After their latest win over the Atlanta Hawks, their eighth straight, New York’s scoring just 106.7 points per game, which is good for the 26th out of all 30 teams.
There’s little doubt that DeRozan’s 21.1 points per game would help the Knicks’ scoring woes, but does he fit on a team that’s devoted so much effort into feeding RJ Barrett and Julius Randle?
DeRozan’s Fit on the Knicks Isn’t Perfect
Hughes argues that Barrett and Randle’s developed three-point shooting helps to smooth out the rough edges around DeRozan’s fit on this New York team:
With Julius Randle’s perimeter accuracy looking less flukey every day, DeRozan’s lack of spacing would hurt less than you might think. And few teams are better equipped to offset his defensive ineptitude than the Knicks, whom head coach Tom Thibodeau has predictably molded into a top-three outfit on that end.
Over their eight-game win streak, Barrett is shooting 41 percent from behind-the-arc, and Randle is putting away 42 percent of his three-point jumpers; both would be career-highs.
The question becomes whether or not those numbers are sustainable with another on-ball heavy player like DeRozan helping to orchestrate the offense.
Because in his 12th NBA season, the guard is averaging a career-high 7.1 assists.
If it’s a gamble that Leon Rose and company trust head coach Tom Thibodeau to orchestrate, fans will have to remain patient with what would no doubt be a clunky fit to start next season.
Rest assured, DeRozan is a great NBA player, and one of the league’s premier scorers.
But can he be that on this New York Knicks team, without hindering their young stars?
That much remains unclear.
What is clear is that this team is once again at the forefront of the NBA spotlight.
And that’s how you land guys like DeMar DeRozan.