Knicks named sensible landing spot for veteran playmaking center in free agency

Mason Plumlee, Knicks
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks’ rotation at center could see an overhaul this summer, making one seasoned veteran a viable option for the team to take a look at in free agency.

Knicks could target Mason Plumlee as a replacement for Isaiah Hartenstein

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Clippers
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Michael Saenz of Sir Charles in Charge labeled Mason Plumlee as a stopgap replacement for Isaiah Hartenstein should the breakout Knicks center capitalize on a lucrative multi-year deal he’s projected to see from several teams, saying this in part:

“One potential low-budget option that could arrive for the Knicks over the next few weeks is Mason Plumlee. Even though he’s likely on the backend of his career, Plumlee did prove that he was able to be effective for the LA Clippers this past season in spurts. If the Knicks were to target Plumlee, they would likely have to keep [Mitchell] Robinson in as the starter and use Plumlee sparingly off the bench,” Saenz wrote.

Knicks: Mason Plumlee can crash the boards similar to their elite center unit

NBA: Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers
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Plumlee is a workhorse center with a high motor and a knack for making plays in half-court sets. The 34-year-old shares several similarities with Hartenstein. He owned a 19.6 percent total rebounding percentage in the 2023-24 regular season. That trumped Hartenstein’s 18.5 percent marker, as well as Knicks starting center Robinson’s 19.2 percent rebounding clip.

Additionally, Plumlee is a great rim-runner. His 64.6 percent score frequency in pick-and-roll situations ranked No. 30 in the league last season. He was used in that play type 27.8 percent of the time, which trailed only six screen-setters on the campaign, despite him only seeing 14.7 minutes of action a night.

Plumlee is an underrated decision-maker and passer at center

Qualitatively, the Duke product is adept at catching the ball when his ball-handler gets trapped and drawing defenses in while making the right reads to open shooters on the outside. He is also a capable playmaker in dribble handoff situations.

The Knicks thrived while playing centers that fit under Plumlee’s mold. In the event that they bring back their same core of Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, OG Anunoby, Donte DiVincenzo, and Josh Hart for 2024-25, they’ll need a five-man that does not require the ball in his hands to be effective and can do the dirty work in the interior.

Given that Plumlee made $5 million on the final year of his deal in 2023-24, he could potentially be had for even less going forward, seeing that his scoring and distributing numbers more than halved from 2022-23 to last season. The Knicks would benefit from keeping tabs on the Indiana native this summer.

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