Contenders eyeing Knicks’ free agent forward

Feb 27, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) controls the ball against New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With Isaiah Hartenstein moving to the Oklahoma City Thunder with a lucrative three-year, $87 million contract, the New York Knicks are set to lean more heavily on Mitchell Robinson as their primary center. This shift comes amid a season riddled with injuries, which forced the Knicks to depend heavily on their bench strength.

Achiuwa’s Uncertain Future with the Knicks

Among the key backups last season was Precious Achiuwa, who joined the Knicks as part of the trade that also brought OG Anunoby over from the Toronto Raptors. Despite the Knicks declining Achiuwa’s option for $6.27 million, there is significant interest in him from other contending teams this off-season. However, according to Ian Begley of SNY, Achiuwa is open to re-signing with the Knicks.

May 12, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA;  Indiana Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard (2) shoots the ball while New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) defends during game four of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Achiuwa’s Performance and Potential Role

Last season, Achiuwa made 74 appearances, averaging 7.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.3 assists while shooting 50.1% from the field. Although he primarily played as a power forward, Achiuwa frequently stepped up as a makeshift center. Standing at 6 feet 8 inches, he may not have the ideal height for a traditional big man, but his defensive capabilities and his ability to distribute the ball make him a valuable team player.

Knicks’ Roster Strategy Moving Forward

The Knicks declined Achiuwa’s qualifying offer, possibly to adjust their salary cap or re-evaluate their roster strategy, but there remains a possibility of re-signing him to deepen their roster. In the recent draft, the Knicks added several new players, with Tyler Kolek from Marquette expected to come off the bench as a backup point guard. This leaves a potential gap for another backup center, a role Achiuwa could fill, although he might not be the Knicks’ first choice for this position.

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