Knicks preparing to extend energizing forward on $75 million deal

NBA: Playoffs-New York Knicks at Cleveland Cavaliers, josh hart
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a relatively quiet off-season, the New York Knicks have made two notable signings. Donte DiVincenzo joined the team on a four-year contract worth $47 million, and Josh Hart was secured on a one-year extension worth $13 million.

Hart’s Decision to Extend with the Knicks

Despite the potential to earn more in free agency, Hart decided to pick up his player option for the 2023–24 season. As reported by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, this strategic decision was intended to grant the Knicks additional salary space and extend beyond the upcoming season.

In fact, Hart is anticipated to sign a four-year contract worth $75 million, averaging an annual salary of $18.75 million. This deal marks a considerable salary increase and demonstrates the Knicks’ long-term commitment to him.

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Josh Hart’s Influence and Performance

At 28 years old, this Villanova product demonstrated critical chemistry with Jalen Brunson and played a key role in attracting DiVincenzo to New York. Throughout his career, Hart has shown versatility, playing both as a small forward and a shooting guard. After being traded from the Portland Trail Blazers, he emerged as a dynamic asset for the Knicks during the past season.

During the year, Hart averaged 9.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and shot an impressive .529 from the field. In his 25 games off the bench for the Knicks, he maintained strong performance with 10.2 points, seven rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.4 steals per game, boasting a field shooting average of .586 and a .519 average from beyond the arc.

Hart’s Defensive Contribution

In addition to his offensive prowess, Hart also excelled defensively. He recorded a career-high defensive rating of 116 last season, which is expected to decrease as the Knicks rely on him for critical defensive plays. During the playoffs, Hart had a defensive rating of 110.2 and averaged 5.7 defensive rebounds.

The Strategy of Keeping Brunson and Hart Together

Rather than splitting up Brunson and Hart, the Knicks chose to bank on their fantastic chemistry and shared experience. This decision aligns with the team’s strategy of fostering a winning mentality and camaraderie among players — a factor they’ve lacked in the past.

Knicks’ Future Moves

The Knicks could still consider adding more pieces during this off-season, potentially a third star to complement Julius Randle and Brunson. However, the team is already well-positioned to secure a significant number of regular-season victories. Therefore, they might opt to wait until next year’s trade deadline before making any major moves.