Knicks could pursue Suns 3-and-D forward this offseason

Knicks, Royce O'Neale
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

As the New York Knicks continue to survey the free agent market for potential depth additions, forward Royce O’Neale has emerged as a potential signing candidate for them.

According to The Athletic’s Fred Katz, the 31-year-old forward who was with the Brooklyn Nets and later the Phoenix Suns this past season could be someone the Knicks pursue using the Midlevel Player Exception if the Suns aren’t as aggressive in bringing him back. He added that because the Suns are above the second apron in terms of their cap space, their resources are extremely hard-capped this summer.

“If O’Neale dips for nothing, Phoenix has no way to replace him. Its best bet is to re-sign O’Neale and maintain the ability to flip him for someone else,” Katz wrote. “The Knicks could pursue him, but if the Suns prioritize bringing O’Neale back, they are the favorites.”

Royce O’Neale could be a solid fit for the Knicks

Royce O'Neale, Knicks
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Adding O’Neale to the Knicks would give them a true backup forward, one that they were lacking last season, and some added physicality that would make him a strong fit under head coach Tom Thibodeau. O’Neale is also a solid scorer from the perimeter, shooting a career three-point percentage of 38.1%.

In 79 games with the Nets and Suns, O’Neale averaged 7.7 points and shot 37% from beyond the arc. Both teams used him primarily as a backup, starting in just 14 games with both teams combined. If the Knicks signed him, he would likely presume that same role, slotting in as the backup forward behind Julius Randle.

The Knicks likely won’t strongly pursue a player like O’Neale until after they handle the impending free agencies of OG Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein, two guys who are the top priorities for them this summer. However, if and when they are able to bring them both back, expect New York to be in the mix for possible depth signings such as O’Neale.

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