When the New York Knicks acquired Luka Vildoza on a four-year, $13.6 million deal, they made sure it was a non-guaranteed contract. The Argentinian guard spent last season with Baskonia of the Spanish ACB league.
Over 27 games, Vildoza averaged 23.5 minutes, posting 10.9 points, 3.7 assists, and shot 42% from the field. The Knicks view him as a combo guard with experience at the European level. Attempting to make the transition to the NBA, Vildoza has a tall task ahead of him, having missed the majority of Summer League play and the emergence of rookie Miles McBride out of West Virginia.
McBride was a player head coach Tom Thibodeau fell in love with during the pre-draft process. With a focus on defensive prowess, McBride impressed with his offensive production. Over 27.7 minutes of play during the Summer League, McBride averaged 15.2 points, shooting 53.2% from the field and 50% from three point range. He also connected on 87.5% of his free throws and picked up 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Defensively, he averaged 1.3 steals per contest and turned the ball over 1.3 times.
Overall, McBride proved that he is deserving of minutes during the regular season, but of course, Summer League play canâ€™t be considered the end all be all of his development. Performing against rookies and the majority reserve players, McBride hasnâ€™t faced off again some of the league’s best, which will likely dampen his progression.
Nonetheless, his shooting and defensive efficiency will undoubtedly put him above Vildoza, who the Knicks can easily let go of and retain some salary space. With Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose, and McBride all featuring at the point guard position, Vildoza is quickly becoming irrelevant. Second-year player Immanuel Quickley also looked solid as a facilitator and shot creator during the Summer League, but he will primarily feature as a shooting guard this upcoming season. The acquisition of Evan Fournier also takes up a starting spot on the roster — Vildoza is quickly falling out of favor for a variety of reasons…and for that reason, he’s OUT (as Shark Tank would say)!
It is entirely possible management keeps him around for one season to test his value, but the Knicks are surprisingly deep after retaining Alec Burks and having Quickley off the bench. It will be an uphill battle for the Argentinian native to make the roster. He will have to have a dominant pre-season to prove his worth, and that might not even be enough.