Knicks’ decision to keep key young guard proves strategic

May 19, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) drives to the basket against Indiana Pacers guard T.J. McConnell (9) during the fourth quarter of game seven of the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks‘ blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets for Mikal Bridges wasn’t as clear cut as it seemed upon the announcement. The Knicks had to send over a few players to shed salary, having agreed that they wouldn’t be stuck at the salary apron at $178 million. The Knicks want a bit more money to spend, with the second apron at $189.5 million.

Avoiding a Costly Salary Dump

Rumors had suggested that New York could end up sending guard Miles McBride to Brooklyn in a salary dump, but they fortunately managed to avoid that reality. The 23-year-old is on one of the best contracts in the game, earning just $12 million over three seasons. He’s entering the first year of that contract next year, counting $4.7 million against the salary cap, $4.3 million in year two, and $3.9 million in year three when he’ll be only 26 years old.

Feb 1, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) controls the ball against New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

McBride’s Development and Impact

This past season, McBride took massive steps in the right direction as a player. He averaged 8.3 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and shot an impressive .452 from the field and .410 from three-point range. After failing to crack a 30% hit rate from downtown in the first two years of his career, he exploded onto the scene with tremendous efficiency, tweaking his fundamentals and spending time in the gym to refine his mechanics.

The Knicks offloading him as a throw-in piece with Brooklyn would’ve been a horrible move, but they managed to keep his services and add Bridges, who is a former Defensive Player of the Year candidate and averaged nearly 20 points per game this past season.

Nov 20, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) against Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks’ Strengthened Bench and Playoff Aspirations

However, the team got stronger on the bench as well, with both Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo falling into complementary roles. Hart was the energizer of the team last season, and DiVincenzo set a record for most three-pointers made in a single year.

With a remarkable amount of depth and established starting talent, including multiple All-Stars, the Knicks have never been in a better position to make a push deep in the playoffs. They will need to get past a dominant Boston Celtics team at some point, but they finally have the defensive pieces and scoring production to go with it. McBride, in a third rotation role, will be a godsend, especially when the Knicks inevitably face injuries that they need to supplement.

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