The New York Knicks have three primary free agents this upcoming off-season, headlined by Josh Hart, Miles McBride, and Derrick Rose.
Rose is inevitably on his way out, and McBride is a good developmental player who should stick around for the 2024 season and beyond. However, Hart is set to opt out of his three-year, $37.9 million deal, looking for a more prominent payday coming off a quality season and featuring as a catalyst for the Knicks after the trade deadline.
Why the Knicks may want to keep Josh Hart around:
Hart, 28, is averaging 10.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.4 steals over 30 minutes per game with New York. He’s played in just 25 contests but is shooting .586 from the field and .519 from beyond the arc, despite attempting just 2.1 shots per game. I wouldn’t consider him a 3-and-D player but rather a defense-first asset that is more than capable of providing scoring prowess with his athleticism and aggressive style.
Spending big money on Hart may not be preferable for the Knicks, especially if he’s looking for more than $13 million per season. A similar contract to the one that Alec Burks signed seems reasonable. He signed a three-year, $30 million extension with New York before being traded. Obviously, Hart feels he’s far more valuable than that.
Nonetheless, Hart has substantial value as a second-team asset which shows incredible rebounding prowess while contributing a decent amount of points per game coming off the bench. His ability to round out the second team, led by Immanuel Quickley, and fill in for starting players when needed has value that doesn’t go unnoticed. However, it is hard to determine a player’s worth when they aren’t getting regular starting minutes, and the Knicks are one superstar away from being legitimate contenders, so their salary space could be used elsewhere.
Theoretically, they could roll over the $15.6 million they are paying Rose this season into a new contract extension for Hart, who may even come in a bit cheaper than that. There are plenty of ways to justify retaining the 28-year-old shooting guard, who has plenty of versatility and has been a spark plug for this Knicks squad over the past few weeks.
With the playoffs starting on Saturday night, the Knicks will need Hart to step up, especially if Julius Randle is unable to play with his sprained left ankle. Head coach Tom Thibodeau is more than confident Hart can help play the 4 and provide the team with plenty of quality.
“[When] Julius was out, Obi started, and he did a good job, and Josh got to play the 4. Those are all things that I think are helpful. So whatever your circumstances are, make the best of those circumstances, and that’s what I like about our team. I think they’ve done that all year long.”Via the NY Post.