The New York Knicks face crucial decisions in the off-season about free agent signings and potentially trading for a star to pair with Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson.
As a championship window begins to open and with significant capital at their disposal, the Knicks are well-positioned to make strategic moves. The timing and magnitude of these decisions remain crucial.
Prioritizing Retention of Key Players
An immediate priority for the Knicks is retaining key players such as Josh Hart and Immanuel Quickley. Quickley is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is set to earn $4.17 million for the 2023-24 season.
The club’s president, Leon Rose, faces a critical decision regarding Quickley’s future contract extension. The team likely wants to assess if Quickley can replicate his impressive 2022-23 season, where he averaged a career-high 14.9 points, with a .448 field shooting rate and a .370 success rate from downtown, over 28.9 minutes per game.
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Weighing Future Contract Options
Quickley was a strong contender for the 6th Man of the Year award, just falling short due to starting 21 games. His potential future contract could be substantial. Some speculate that he could command upwards of $100 million over four years, amounting to an annual salary of $25 million.
Considering Randle’s expected earnings of $28.2 million and Brunson’s $26.3 million for the upcoming season, the Knicks need to decide if Quickley justifies such a high-value contract.
“Don’t expect Quickley to look for a hometown discount. “He is going to want nine figures,” one league executive told Heavy Sports. “And that’s for four years. I can’t say the Knicks will go that high but they might have to. He is not a guy you want to send to restricted free agency.”
Balancing High-Value Contracts
The Knicks have Brunson on a relatively favorable deal, peaking at $27.7 million, which came into effect this past season when he was 26. Brunson has two more years until a player option, which he could opt to reject in search of higher pay. However, for the next two years, the Knicks can benefit from Brunson’s outstanding performance at point guard.
The challenge arises when contemplating whether the team has sufficient salary space to pay Brunson, Randle, RJ Barrett, and Quickley. The simple answer is no, meaning that one of the hefty salaries will need to be adjusted.
As it stands, Barrett could emerge as a trade piece in the off-season for a more notable star, while Quickley’s salary remains comparatively low. This strategy would help balance the Knicks’ salary books, ensuring the team remains competitive and financially sustainable.