The New York Knicks did the best thing for their youth in free agency

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox, RJ Barrett

Some might argue that the New York Knicks did their team a huge disservice by signing multiple veterans that will ultimately pick up a ton of playing time in 2019. My argument is the opposite.

As an organization, babying your players and not allowing them to compete hurts them more than anything. Competition brings the best out of athletes, and that’s why signing a slew of veterans to come in and steal playing time away from guys like Kevin Knox, Allonzo Trier, Mitchell Robinson and Damyean Dotson makes perfect sense.

Complacency is a dangerous thing, but it can be avoided by testing the younger players’ will power and ensuring they’re mentally ready to take on the challenge.

Who did the New York Knicks sign?

This offseason, the Knicks signed Marcus Morris, Julius Randle, Elfrid Payton, Reggie Bullock, Wayne Ellington, Bobby Portis, and Taj Gibson. Knox might be hurt the most by the excessive amount of power forward the team brought in, but it’s necessary for his development.

A majority of these deals are one/two-year deals with a team option, allowing the Knicks the theoretically move on after one season and open up cap-space to pursue a superstar in 2020-21. This is the right way to do things, as guaranteeing another year without playoffs just won’t fly in NY anymore. It’s simply time to contend no matter the cost.

Why will Kevin Knox struggle the most?

Selected ninth overall in 2018, Knox was never seen as a superstar right off the bat, but rather a long-term play for the team. Finishing his rookie campaign with 12.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and a 47 true shooting percentage in 57 starts, it was realized that the forward needed more time than expected to reach his potential.

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With playing time being the primary need, the Knicks added a ton of power forwards to shuffle him to the bottom of the roster. Knox has the ability to play both forward positions, but Randle and Portis will be frequent flyers at power forward and Bullock/Morris at small forward.

The logic behind this move doesn’t make much sense to me, but he was the only player that really struggled out of the Mitchell Robinson, Trier and Dotson grouping, and he was their first-round pick last year. Next season will be his time to show he can be the player the Knicks desperately need him to be.

Can the New York Knicks realistically contend for a playoff spot in 2019?

New York Kicks, Allonzo Trier

The approach teams take in free agency can ultimately be the deciding factor in finding success the following season or failing and having to hit the restart button. The New York Knicks chose a path, one that avoided Kevin Durant and other superstars, maybe because they knew nobody was willing to buy in, however, they did manage to secure several quality veterans.

Options like Julius Randle and Marcus Morris, two efficient players that are capable scorers, were brought in to help transform the starting lineup. Last season, the Knicks essentially fielded a day-care, recording just 17 wins — the worst record in basketball.

The number of signings they made this offseason nearly equate the amount of wins they had, but one offseason can do a lot to the production of a team, and that leads us to our question.

Can the New York Knicks make the playoffs in 2019?

The answer to this question lies in the hands of head coach David Fizdale and whether or not he’s willing to utilize the veterans on the team over the youth players in need of minutes. Second-year players like Kevin Knox, Allonzo Trier, Damyean Dotson, and even Mitchell Robinson could lose significant playing time to the new signings, but that’s ultimately the process of development.

At some point, the organization was going to have to test the mental strength of their young players, and creating position battles is the perfect way to extract that potential. The more experienced options give the Knicks a better chance at making the playoffs, but I anticipate Fizdale creating a functioning balance.

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Giving the Knicks the best chance to win will boil down to playing the right players at the right times, as there are so many different skill-sets that can be utilized. The surplus of power forwards will be helpful around the rim, and shooters like Trier will be essential to the success of the team. I wonder if Fiz will look to set different lineups for specific matchups and rotate players to fit schematic advantages.

The bottom line is, the playoffs might be a stretch in year two of a full rebuild, but it’s quickly becoming more of a possibility.

New York Knicks: Is Kevin Knox ready to become a full-time starter?

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox, RJ Barrett

Similar to his rookie campaign, New York Knicks power forward Kevin Knox had a solid Summer League, but this time around he seems different.

Coming into the league a more seasoned player, it’s obvious Knox has been developing his aggressiveness towards the rim and really attacking players in the paint. While we saw this last year, he didn’t seem to have the strength or gusto to weave his way through defenders.

https://twitter.com/Scott_Charlton/status/1149155552070656000

So far during the Summer League, he’s been putting all of his moves on display. Against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, Knox put up 25 points shooting 58.3 percent from the field (NBA.com). He also made two-of-five three-point attempts (40%).

While he did turn the ball over three times, something he will need to work on, his numbers have certainly been elevated which is a good sign. Last season, he averaged 12.8 points per game over 28.8 minutes played. In addition, his assist rate seems to be up as well, indicating his scanning of the floor and playing to facilitate and not objectify.

New York Knicks: Kevin Knox isn’t the only youngster coming into his own

Knox has looked stellar so far, and his rookie teammate RJ Barrett is finally coming around too, claiming his second-consecutive double-double and first triple-double in a 117-96 win for the Lakers.

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Barrett, who scored 21 points, shooting 35.3 percent from the field, also earned 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He had a very nice game utilizing his athleticism and dominating from the inside. His three-point game continues to struggle as he adapts to the length of the court, but he’s working his way into a role that will be consistent come the start of the regular season.

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Both Knox and Barrett will likely be starting options alongside Mitchell Robinson, Julius Randle, and Dennis Smith Jr. They have impressive rotational depth with Bobby Portis (could also start over Knox), Allonzo Trier, Ignas Brazdeikis, Damyean Dotson (can also start), Kadeem Allen, Frank Ntilikina, Wayne Ellington, Reggie Bullock, Taj Gibson, and Noah Vonleh. These are the primary players with several others sprinkled into the mix.

It will be interesting to see how the starting roster plays out, and having too much talent to choose from is certainly not a bad thing. Unfortunately, none of the options here are considered superstar caliber.

Were the New York Knicks right to withhold max contract from Kevin Durant?

New York Knicks

As one of the best players in recent memory in the NBA, a torn Achilles shouldn’t have even been factored into the decision to pursue Kevin Durant for the New York Knicks this offseason. Modern medicine is good enough to see torn Achilles and ACL’s recover to 100%, but owner James Dolan figured he’d save himself some cash…so it seems.

The Knicks, once again, have played themselves, finding themselves with several second-tier free agents instead of premium talent. At the very least, bringing in Durant could have persuaded others to come to the Mecca of basketball as well.

While Julius Randle, 24, is a solid young power forward that will help the Knicks over the next three seasons, he’s no Durant. However, the other side of the story is still a positive one.

The New York Knicks are still headed in the right direction:

While the Knicks didn’t convince any superstars to join the ranks, they’re still on a good path moving forward with a ton of youth on the team and a potential star in RJ Barrett.

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As we dive into the roster — Kevin Knox, Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Damyean Dotson, Allonzo Trier, Dennis Smith Jr., there’s plenty to be excited about. The issue simply presents itself as time. Waiting for the youth to blossom into veteran talent is the cost of building through the draft and failing to bring in proven players that can influence the team now.

It’s not what Knicks fans want to hear or wait for, as another failing to address vital additions to the team costs us more of our lives to watch a struggling franchise. Dolan, the unanimous winner for the most hated owner, will remain seated in his current position, which guarantees more issues.

Hopefully, the likes of Scott Perry and Steve Mills can mask the deficiencies and extract the success we are all so hungry for.