Knicks 2023 offseason primer: Targets, outgoing free agents, trades, draft needs and more

The New York Knicks made a surprising run to the Eastern Conference semifinals. How will they look to build on their success in the offseason?

Expectations were low for the New York Knicks entering the 2022-23 campaign. After a disastrous flop a year prior, many viewed the Knicks’ run to the 4-seed in the Eastern Conference as a product of a pandemic-shortened season backed up by poor free-agent decisions from Leon Rose.

Things turned around dramatically this season as the Knicks surprisingly went 47-35 to secure the fifth seed in the East, avoiding the play-in and upsetting the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games. New York had homecourt advantage in the second round against the No, 8 seed Miami Heat but couldn’t take advantage as they fell in six games.

There was a lot to like for New York, however, which got another All-NBA performance from Julius Randle. The Knicks saw Randle average 25.1 points and 10 rebounds per game, putting up a performance that earned him a trip to the All-Star Game and was more reminiscent of his breakthrough 2020-21 campaign that led to Randle’s big contract extension.

The big difference between this year’s Knicks team and the last one, however, was the addition of point guard Jalen Brunson. While some thought that New York overpaid for him in free agency, Brunson proved that his breakout with the Dallas Mavericks wasn’t a fluke by becoming the best point guard the franchise has had in years.

Brunson’s presence allowed the Knicks to rely less on Randle as an initiator, freeing him up to take more open shots. The Knicks also used Brunson’s playmaking ability to create a very unorthodox shot profile that was analytically efficient with plenty of layups and three-pointers, especially when offensive rebounds were converted into second-chance points.

The Heat series did expose some flaws for the Knicks, who ran into trouble when Miami out-rebounded them and clogged the lanes to take away easy baskets in the paint. The majority of New York’s core is locked up, however, and Rose does have a lot of assets at his disposal to shake up his roster however he would like.

New York Knicks’ outgoing free agents

The Knicks only have five players set to test the market this summer.

  • Derrick Rose, PG, 34
  • Josh Hart, SG, 28
  • Miles McBride, 22, PG
  • Trevor Keels, 19, SG (RFA)
  • Duane Washington Jr, 23, PG (RFA)

The big name here is Hart, the Knicks’ trade deadline acquisition who fit in very nicely with how New York wants to play on both ends. Hart played with Brunson at Villanova and appears open to staying in New York for the long run.

Rose is a goner while the front office will likely look to retain McBride and their restricted free agents as well.

New York Knicks’ trade targets

The easy answer to this category is wait-and-see because the Knicks are still hunting for a star to elevate them to championship contention status. New York actively pursued a deal for Donovan Mitchell last summer before balking at Utah’s asking price, which included R.J. Barrett, who the Knicks signed to a contract extension instead.

The Knicks will likely be linked to Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard and Trae Young in trade rumors since all three could be available if the price is right. One sleeper to watch is Philadelphia center Joel Embiid, who could look to get out of town if the 76ers lose James Harden in free agency.

Rose can be selective in who he targets, however, since New York has plenty of assets to trade. The Knicks have 10 first-round picks they can move in the next six years and a litany of young players like Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, and Quentin Grimes that typically get moved in superstar deals. Evan Fournier’s expiring contract would also be useful as a salary match in that hypothetical trade scenario.

New York Knicks free agent targets

The Knicks are already over the salary cap for next season but do have a bit of breathing room before they enter luxury tax territory. The best avenue for New York to add a free agent to its roster would be via the non-taxpayer exception, which is worth $12 million, and the $4.5 million bi-annual exception.

Retaining Hart looks to be a priority that the Knicks could accomplish through Bird rights but expect New York to target another perimeter shooter to add floor spacing. A few names who could fit this bill and New York’s price range include Donte DiVincenzo, Seth Curry, Lonnie Walker IV and Max Strus. Who they end up going after could be determined by how much Hart gets on his new deal and whether they opt to extend young players like Quickley and Toppin.

New York Knicks NBA Draft targets

There won’t be much targeting happening here since the Knicks currently don’t have any picks in the upcoming draft. New York’s first-round pick went to Portland in the Hart deal and it doesn’t seem likely that Rose will be interested in getting a pick at this juncture.

The more likely scenario is that they look to buy a second-round pick to add another intriguing wing player on a two-way deal. Some intriguing names to watch if New York hops into the middle of the second round include UCLA’s Jaylen Clark, Kansas’ Jalen Wilson, Penn State’s Seth Lundy and Kansas State’s Keyonte Johnson.

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