There may not be a team having a better offseason than the New York Knicks, who’ve upgraded their roster without forfeiting any of the team’s future assets.
To kick things off, they re-signed their own key free agents. All of Alec Burks, Derrick Rose, Nerlens Noel, and Taj Gibson will be returning next season after playing contributing roles last season.
Then, Leon Rose and the Knicks front office made their splash, inking Evan Fournier to a four-year, $78-million deal.
But through day two of free agency, New York hadn’t yet secured a starting point guard, raising concerns among fans.
And in one fail swoop early on Wednesday morning, all of that unease was put to rest.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that upon clearing a buyout with the Oklahoma City Thunder, four-time All-Star point guard Kemba Walker will be signing a deal with the Knicks:
Walker, who was traded by the Boston Celtics at the start of this offseason, averaged 19.3 points, 4.9 assists, four rebounds, and 1.1 steals across 43 appearances last season.
He’s a sure-fire upgrade over last year’s starter Elfrid Payton, and with Derrick Rose in the fold, the New York Knicks will have 48 minutes of elite guard play, particularly on the offensive end.
Knicks Rebound From Missing Out on Nunn
Patience is the key here with how the New York Knicks approached the point guard position in free agency.
Veteran point guards Chris Paul and Mike Conley are returning to their respective teams on lucrative deals, and Kyle Lowry has landed with the Miami Heat by way of a sign-and-trade deal.
Lonzo Ball was a member of the Chicago Bulls by 6:01 PM on Monday, and T.J. McConnell is returning to Indiana.
And Spencer Dinwiddie, currently sitting in a grey area between landing spots, was outside of their price range.
So, the Knicks reportedly took a swing on former Miami Heat guard Kendrick Nunn albeit to no avail.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported late on Tuesday night that he’d signed a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
And for less money than was offered to him by New York, for what it’s worth:
Once he was off the board, the Knicks were faced with two realistic options, last year’s starters from the two Los Angeles teams, Dennis Schroder and Reggie Jackson.
So, they went with the third option: patience. And they’re rewarded with four-time All-Star guard Kemba Walker.
Walker Still Has Plenty Left in the Tank
Once the initial wave of excitement passed through New York Knicks fans, a realization struck the entire fanbase.
While an elite talent when healthy, Kemba Walker hasn’t truly been healthy in over two years.
The 31-year old played just 43 games last season, due to a 12-week management plan for his left knee.
That came after helping the Boston Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2020. Walker looked himself when he returned to the court in January, posting 19.3 points nightly and somewhat efficiently.
But he did end up missing the final two games of their five-game playoff series loss to the Brooklyn Nets in the first round due to a bone bruise in the same knee.
Still, there’s still confidence that with a full offseason to rehab and work, Walker will return to All-Star form.
As he told local Boston radio host Ty Anderson in June, this summer may be the biggest of his career:
I’m planning on having a big summer. Get myself feeling good again. It’s been a while since I’ve really, really had time off. So this is just really gonna be an important time for me. I’m really gonna attach [my offseason].
The New York Knicks have brought back a number of key pieces from last season and now will upgrade two spots on the roster that arguably, seriously needed it in their two guard spots.
With Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier, their offense woes should be a thing of the past come Opening Night in the fall.
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