Could the Knicks target former 76ers center in free agency

May 2, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) and Philadelphia 76ers forward Paul Reed (44) wrestle for the ball during the second half of game six of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are still searching for a backup center to replace Isaiah Hartenstein, who left in free agency to sign a three-year, $87 million contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Their options are quickly falling off the board, but another one from an Eastern Conference rival may have just become available.

Paul Reed may become a new Knicks target

Paul Reed, Knicks
Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers waived backup center Paul Reed prior to signing Caleb Martin on Saturday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The 76ers had previously signed veteran center Andre Drummond at the start of free agency, so Reed had no clear path to playing time for them going forward. Reed played his first four seasons with the 76ers and saw the most action of his career last season, playing in all 82 games including 24 starts, and averaging 7.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

Knicks fans may remember Reed’s infamous quote downplaying New York prior to the start of their first-round playoff matchup, where he deemed the East’s second seed as the “easier team” compared to the eventual champion Boston Celtics (h/t FanDuel TV’s Run It Back). Reed’s words would age very poorly, as the Knicks eliminated the 76ers in the first round and Reed averaged just 1.5 points across all six games of the series.

Therefore, it may sound egregious for the Knicks to bring in Reed, but New York has a desperate need for center depth. As it stands right now, Mitchell Robinson is slated to be the starting center, and Jericho Sims is projected to be the backup. They have floated around the idea of bringing back Precious Achiuwa to fill in that spot, but it is not a guarantee he will return.

The Knicks won’t ask for much out of their backup centers next season

Paul Reed, Knicks
Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

At 6’9” and 210 lbs, Reed brings some size and physicality to the table. The 25-year-old out of DePaul profiles as a solid rim protector (1.0 blocks per game last season) and a good rebounder. He may not provide the same floor-spacing abilities that Hartenstein brought, but the good thing is that the Knicks won’t need nearly as much production from their backup center this time around.

New York loaded up on scoring and playmaking depth, acquiring two-way wing Mikal Bridges in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets and drafting Marquette guard Tyler Kolek in the second round. In addition, the Knicks will get a healthy Julius Randle back in action, and Donte DiVincenzo and Josh Hart at their disposal off the bench. The immense depth of the roster will make them less reliant on their backup bigs, as they have the players that can guard multiple positions.

If Reed were to sign with the Knicks, Tom Thibodeau would likely use him in spurts or whenever Robinson finds himself in foul trouble. It’s unlikely he would be used in closing lineups very often, but he can provide steady minutes throughout various points of games if he continues to develop his game in the right direction. In recent years, Thibodeau has been known to expand the capabilities of his centers, so Reed could be a solid fit for them next season.

As the offseason continues, Reed could emerge as a player that the Knicks pursue to fill out their roster.

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