Report: Knicks’ Thibodeau kept three of his four veterans, but had to let go of Bullock

Reggie Bullock of the New York Knicks

The New York Knicks let several players from the 2020-21 roster go this off-season, including Elfred Payton, Frank Ntilikina, and Reggie Bullock. All three offered different attributes and skills but ultimately didn’t make the cut to continue on with the team.

In Frank’s case, his offensive development hit a wall and was unable to take his game to the next level, so the Knicks needed to clear his spot in favor of another player. Payton struggled considerably on offense and toward the end of the season last year, making way for Kemba Walker as the team’s new prolific free agent signing. However, Bullock played well at 29-years-old, averaging 10.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and shooting 44% from the field. He also connected on 41% from three-point range, an adequate number that helped the Knicks tremendously with their spot-up shooting.

Bullock isn’t the type of player to create opportunities for others like Evan Fournier, who signed a four-year contract with the team this off-season. He does offer improved defense, though, which made him a favorite for starting minutes.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau wanted SG/SF Reggie Bullock back on an extension but was overruled by the front office:

According to an NBA source, Thibodeau lobbied hard to bring back the team’s defensive heart-and-soul in starting shooting guard Reggie Bullock but team brass went another direction. The coach was disappointed.

The Knicks could have had the free agent for roughly the same three-year, $30.5 million package ($25 million guaranteed) the Mavericks offered him, according to a source. But on Day 1 of practice Tuesday, Bullock was in the Big D, not leading the Knicks D.

It is quite interesting to see how Thibodeau wanted Bullock back, but instead, the front office overruled him, despite allowing him to retain Alec Burks, Derrick Rose, and Nerlens Noel. When looking at Fournier, though, his more detailed statistics point toward a more efficient offensive player. He averaged 37.2% of his points on unassisted shots while Bullock landed at 6.5%. He’s clearly able to open up space for himself and score without an assist, which should take pressure off Julius Randle and some of the Knicks’ other playmakers.

The loss of defense will certainly hurt, making it difficult for the team to maintain some of their impressive qualities in the category. Of course, Thibodeau leans on defense to characterizes the team, but he will have to find a balance with more scoring production this upcoming season.

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