3 free agent point guards on the Knicks’ radar as we head toward free agency

New York Knicks, Lonzo Ball
Mar 1, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (2) reacts to making a three point basket against Utah Jazz during the second half at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are heading into a competitive off-season full of teams looking to acquire big players. After a successful 2020–21 season, led by All-Star Julius Randle and one of the best defenses in basketball, thanks to Tom Thibodeau, the organization plans to inject more talent into the roster.

With various players expected to hit the open market, including Nerlens Noel, Taj Gibson, Alec Burks, and more, the Knicks will have plenty of money to go out and find a bonafide star while also retaining some of their more efficient contributors.

However, point guard remains a significant weakness, and it became clear that the team cannot rely on Derrick Rose on an everyday basis due to his age and injuries. Retaining him as a spark off the bench, on the other hand, could be a fantastic move as he showed elusiveness and scoring prowess throughout the season. He was the only Knick to really show production during the postseason series against the Atlanta Hawks, as his experience brought benefits. He already mentioned that returning to New York would be a priority, but he expects the Knicks’ front office to be busy with bigger fish.

Three FA point guards on the Knicks’ radar:

1.) Lonzo Ball

During the trade deadline a few months ago, Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball was at the top of the food chain. He was rumored daily to the Knicks, and after posting 14.6 points, 5.7 assists, and shooting .378 from three-point land this season, he is undoubtedly still on their radar.

At 23 years old, Ball hasn’t hit his ceiling yet, so the Knicks could end up acquiring a player just entering his prime. With four years of experience on two different teams, he has seen improvements in several categories on a yearly basis, including his shot from downtown. His field-goal percentage has also increased from .360 in his rookie year to .414 last season. Averaging 31.8 minutes per game, Ball would be a solid option for a New York team in need of a long-term point guard. While he won’t be as expensive or as proven as Chris Paul or Damian Lillard, his upside is worth gambling on, and I would be content if the Knicks went this route in FA.

2.) Kendrick Nunn

New York has also been linked to Miami Heat point guard Kendrick Nunn, who could make upwards of $15 million per season after earning $1.7 million with Miami this past campaign.

Nunn averaged 14.6 points per game, seeing an increase in scoring proficiency while also hitting on .381 from downtown. His free-throw percentage rose to .933, indicating a very efficient shooter in that category. He has taken steps forward gradually in nearly every section, and at 25 years old, he could offer the Knicks a long-term solution a point guard as well.

Per Ian Begley of SNY:

“Nunn, per sources, is among the guards who have been on the Knicks’ radar as they consider their offseason plans. Nunn shot 38.1 percent from beyond the arc on nearly six attempts per game this season and shot it remarkably well in the second half of the season. One member of an opposing organization analyzing the market drew a comparison between the 25-year-old Nunn and Terry Rozier, who averaged nine points per game in his last season with the Celtics before signing a three-year, $56 million deal with Charlotte. Rozier’s role increased. His production also increased. The opposing team thought Nunn, who averaged 14.6 points per game last year, could follow a similar path if his opportunities increased.”

3.) Chris Paul

Of course, the big fish would be Chris Paul, who is 36 years old and is looking for a three-year deal. For a player of his age, Paul is still playing exceptional basketball, making the All-Star team over the past two seasons consecutively. His points per game have dropped to 16.4, the lowest since 2010, but he is still providing 8.9 assists and shooting nearly .500 from the field. There is no question that Paul still has plenty of great basketball left in his future, but the concern for injury is real.

The expectation is that Paul could be searching for a contract in a three-year, $100 million range, which would give the Knicks more funds to utilize in other places, but it is still lofty for a player past his prime. The Knicks could be better off sticking with a younger option for cheaper then taking a gamble on an aging veteran like Paul.

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