It would be an extreme understatement to say that the New York Knicks exceeded expectations in the 2020-21 season. Coming into this year virtually nobody expected the Knicks to even make the playoffs, but the New York had faith in themselves and as a result proved everybody wrong. Not only did the Knicks make the playoffs but they were a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 41-31 this season.
Despite a disappointing first-round exit courtesy of Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks, one positive that the Knicks can take away from this season is that the resurgence of the team has them primed to be a top destination during this summer’s upcoming free agency period. Of course, that comes with making some tough decisions on the roster as it is currently constructed.
Kevin Knox’s Trainer Sounds off About His Knicks Future
Knicks’ big man Kevin Knox was a stud coming out of the University of Kentucky. Knox averaged 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game during his one season as a Wildcat. With such an impressive freshman season it is no surprise that he was picked 9th overall in the 2018 NBA Draft. However, Knox’s impressive lone season at Kentucky has not translated to the NBA. In his three seasons with the Knicks, he has averaged just 8.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per game.
In Tom Thibodeau’s first year as the Knicks head coach Knox averaged a career-low in minutes logging just 11.0 per game, down from 17.9 the previous year. Knox saw a total of four minutes of playing time in this year’s playoffs and with him set to become a restricted free agent in 2022 many have questioned his future with the franchise. Despite the uncertainty of Knox’s future with Knicks, his trainer Mark Edwards, is not concerned about his future in the NBA he. Edwards knows Knox can be a contributor on whatever team he lands with.
“I mean, if people are giving up on him already, that’s a shame because he is one of the more talented guys in the NBA. He is one of the more talented guys that I have trained, and it is just a matter of getting your mind right, and figuring out the league,” Edwards said to Landon Buford. “Also, figure out how to stay in the league, survive in the league, and flourish. I think he is willing to put the work in, and he will do it, especially this summer. We are going to work, and we are going to grind. So, he will be good next year wherever he is.”
Knox’s Trainer Is Focused on Him Having Long NBA Career
At a lanky 6’9, Knox has the size to be an elite wing in the NBA, but at times his skill set has been questionable, specifically his aggressiveness on the floor. His number of shot attempts per game has decreased every season since he has entered the league. Edwards says they plan to address every deficiency in Knox’s game this offseason, to ensure that he has a long NBA career.
“Well, here is the thing, I mean his fourth year is already secured. So, I know Kevin come out here and really get a bunch of work in and we are going to get the necessary work that he is going to need to stay in the NBA,” Edwards continued. “So, we are going to do a lot of speed and agility, and explosive training. We will also do a lot of things off the ball that will help him a lot more, speeding up his shot. Increasing his handle just overall makes him a better player and make him more presentable.”
Knicks & Liberty Have Glaring Salary Cap Discrepancy
The Knicks salary cap for the 2020-21 season comes in at over a whopping $109 million. The New York Liberty’s pales in comparison at just $1.3 million this season. The discrepancy between the salaries for men’s and women’s basketball has been a long-debated topic in the hoops community. 4-time WNBA All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith believes it is an issue that needs to finally be properly addressed by the powers that be.
“I’m at a loss for words sometimes, talking about this. It’s unfortunate that men make more money for the same amount of work or even less work,” Diggins-Smith said in an interview with Wealthsimple in 2018 per Bleacher Report. “I would be curious to know how successful we could be with such a great product if we had the same platform as the guys do. Think about the marketing dollars that they spend on guys, the platform given to them. Branding opportunities, TV deals, endorsement deals. It’s kind of like the chicken and the egg.”
The Knicks have set themselves up to have a big offseason this summer, if Knox can improve and become a better player in the offseason, the Knicks can be true contenders in the 2021-22 season.