With training camp starting in about three weeks for the New York Knicks, several players will be fighting for roster spots and a continued future with the organization.
With plenty of talent on the roster after signing Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker this free agency period, the Knicks also went out and drafted multiple players who can contribute over a longer-term. Selecting Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, and Jericho Sims, all three have their strengths and weaknesses, ranging from shooting and superior athleticism in the paint.
However, there will be a sense of competition during training camp for roster spots, and three players specifically will be eyeing a bench spot this upcoming season.
Three roster bubble players for the Knicks:
1.) Kevin Knox
The fact that the Knicks haven’t traded away Kevin Knox is quite interesting. Knox averaged just 11 minutes per game last year, making 42 appearances and starting zero games. He averaged 3.9 points, 1.5 rebounds, and shot 39% from the field. Given his lack of usage, Knox, who is 22-years-old, could’ve been utilized as a trade piece to add more talent or draft capital down the road.
However, Knox remains on the roster, and with the number of depth pieces the team currently has, it is unlikely he finds himself sitting on the bench once again. There’s still plenty of time for the front office to find a trade partner, and I would imagine that is where Knox’s value will be applied.
2.) Jericho Sims
One of the Knicks’ most impressive Summer League performers was Texas big man Jericho Sims. Showing off elite athleticism around the rim, Sims average 28 minutes per game over five contests. He posted 8.2 points and landed 8.2 rebounds, second on the team to only Obi Toppin with 8.3.
Sims offers plenty of value as a young center with potential, but the Knicks retained Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson this off-season, crowding the reserves with experienced talent. Sims will likely spend his rookie season with the Westchester Knicks in the G League, gaining essential experience as he prepares to take over for Gibson as the team’s third-string center.
3.) Luca Vildoza
The Knicks invested in Argentinian guard Luca Vildoza just prior to the end of the 2020-21 season. Vildoza signed a four-year, $13.6 million deal, but the caveat is that none of it is guaranteed. As a two-way guard, Vildoza also has smooth shooting fundamentals, averaging 10.1 points in the Euro League league last year.
However, the front office retained Derrick Rose, signed Kemba Walker, and drafted Miles McBride, leaving little room for Vildoza to make a name for himself. The team also has Immanuel Quickley as a potential long-term solution at PG, making Vildoza expendable, where they can save a bit of cap room. He will need to impress during training camp to stick around for the upcoming year, or he could be included in a potential trade for draft capital.
4.) Dwayne Bacon
The Knicks quietly signed point guard Dwayne Bacon to a contract this off-season, and at 25-years-old, he’s looking to land a spot on the bench. Averaging 10.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and shooting 40% from the field last season, Bacon played in all 72 games, starting in 50.
Having his best season to date, Bacon has solid depth potential, but offer little otherwise. Head coach Tom Thibodeau will prefer to go with rookies Grimes and McBride on the bench over fringe roster players, so Bacon will have a tough time making the team. Having played four consecutive years in the NBA, it is entirely possible he latches on with a different club if hid experiment with a knicks fails to develop into anything serious.