Seriously. THE KNICKS MIGHT ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING.
On the surface, I know this offseason was not what Knicks fans wanted. For two years we were told that the Knicks were gonna build a team of Zion Williamson, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving. It looks catastrophically awful that none of these players are on the Knicks right now, that all of the Knicks’ worst fears came true and they swung in missed on all the premier talent. Classic joke Knicks like always, right on brand.
But guess what punk? THE KNICKS ACTUALLY HAD THEIR BEST OFFSEASON OF THE 2010s, and none of the aforementioned players wear a Knicks uniform. The Knicks drafted RJ Barrett with the 3rd overall pick and signed Julius Randle in free agency. The Knicks added two legit NBA talents under the age of 25 that fill two spots in their starting rotation. When was the last time the Knicks made such productive short and long term moves in one offseason?
The Knicks are usually a dumpster fire when it comes to signing free agents. This team genuinely thought it was a good idea to give 32-year-old center Joakim Noah a 4 years/$72 million dollar contract in 2016. Let me say that again. A 32-year-old…center…for 4 years…expiring at age 36…for $72 million.
My brain hurts. This obviously wasn’t a good idea at the time and certainly didn’t hold up- Noah ended up playing just 53 games over 2 seasons before being released. Trading for Derrick Rose’s knees gave the 2017 Knicks a 2010 Bulls feel to it, but the players were just 7 years older. I’m shocked Carlos Boozer never ended up in a Knicks uniform.
The Knicks have made other questionable signings. They gave Robin Lopez a 3 years/$60 million dollar contract in 2015. The same year they gave Lance Thomas 4 years/ $25 million. They gave Courtney Lee 4 years/$48 million in 2016. There is absolutely zero evidence that the Knicks have any clue what they were doing when it comes to free agency.
Until now. The Knicks big free-agent splash this offseason was 24-year-old power forward Julius Randle, who they signed for 3 years/$63 million. Randle is the Knicks’ best free-agent signing since Amar’e Stoudmire in 2010, and it isn’t close. Randle is a top 25 player in the NBA right now. Yeah, you read that right. The stats back it up.
Last season, Julius Randle scored 21.4 points per game, which ranked 19th overall, sandwiched in between Klay Thompson and LaMarcus Aldridge. Not a bad company. Randle also averaged 8.7 rebounds a game, good for 20th in the league. Not only can this dude score from the PF position, but he can also rebound.
Randle ranked 25th in field goals and field goal percentage, so he was making a lot of shots while being super efficient about it. Randle can come onto the Knicks and immediately become their top scorer. Perhaps productive years from Barrett or Kevin Knox could challenge Randle for top scorer, but I doubt it.
While Zion seemed like the obvious replacement to a certain 7’3 Latvian PF (who’s name I won’t say), Julius Randle became the realistic choice once the Knicks didn’t land the first overall pick. The Knicks usually like paying their free agents into their mid-30s, but Randle’s contract expires when he is 27, which is a refreshing change of pace. A three-year deal is low risk with his youth, and worst case if he sucks they aren’t committed to him for that long. It is a move that can benefit the short term and the long term without putting the future in jeopardy. The Knicks can afford to pay Randle $20.7 million per year over the next couple of years while the rest of their team is young and on rookie contracts.
Julius Randle is the Knicks’ best free-agent signing of the last decade, and fans shouldn’t be disappointed they didn’t sign any of the bigger named free agents. For the first time in a long time, the Knicks offseason wasn’t a complete disaster, as Randle is good enough to be the starting PF for the future championship-contending Knicks team. If their young talent develops around Randle, this team could be special.
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