Knicks could lean on developmental center to take a big step forward

Jericho Sims, New York Knicks

Losing Isaiah Hartenstein was a significant setback for the New York Knicks, yet the acquisition of Mikal Bridges through a trade and the extension of OG Anunoby have substantially mitigated this loss. Despite these gains, depending heavily on Mitchell Robinson as the primary starter poses challenges due to his health history and difficulty maintaining consistent playtime.

Exploring Trade Options to Strengthen the Roster

Robinson has managed to play over 70 games only once in his career. In light of this, the Knicks are actively exploring additional options through trades. Recent rumors have linked them to Walker Kessler of the Utah Jazz and Nick Richards of the Charlotte Hornets, indicating a proactive approach to bolster their lineup.

Potential in Developmental Talent: Jericho Sims

Amid these considerations, the potential rise of developmental center Jericho Sims cannot be overlooked. While it might be optimistic to rely heavily on him as the primary reserve this early, the Knicks are open to this possibility and might reassess their strategy as the trade deadline approaches next year.

Sims, at 25, participated in 45 games last season, averaging 13 minutes per game. His contributions were modest but solid—two points, 3.3 rebounds, and 0.4 blocks per game, with a .691 shooting percentage from the field. Despite his lack of experience and occasional defensive misplacements, Sims has dedicated this off-season to enhancing his skills and aims to make a more significant impact.

Boston Celtics guard Derrick White (9) controls the ball while New York Knicks center Jericho Sims (45) defends during the first half at TD Garden

Contractual Decisions and Financial Prudence

Sims is entering the final year of a three-year, $5.6 million deal. The Knicks have exercised the club option for their former second-round pick, allocating just under $2.1 million for him next season. Concurrently, the front office declined the $6.3 million qualifying offer for Precious Achiuwa in late June, rendering him an unrestricted free agent. While Achiuwa might return to provide depth at power forward and center, the Knicks are cautious about not overspending on a career backup.

Free Agency and Trade Prospects

Currently, the free agent market is sparse, featuring players like Taj Gibson, Tristan Thompson, and Daniel Theis. Given these conditions, pursuing a trade using their draft capital and existing roster depth appears more likely than signing a veteran free agent.

The Knicks’ Expectations for Sims

In terms of what the Knicks need from Sims, defensive prowess and rebounding are more critical than scoring. Although he has been seen practicing jump shots, the team does not expect him to focus on scoring. Instead, improving his defensive positioning and court awareness is paramount.

If Sims can advance in these key areas, he might secure a more regular spot in the rotation. Meanwhile, the Knicks continue their search for an experienced veteran to support their championship goals.

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