When the New York Knicks signed Nerlens Noel, they didn’t expect him to be a defensive maestro for them during the 2020 season. Of course, he offered a 6’11′ shot-blocking center, but he underwhelmed in producing points on the scoreboard. One of the Knicks’ most prevalent struggles during the postseason was their lack of aggressiveness and physicality against a stronger frontcourt, courtesy of the Atlanta Hawks. Noel and Taj Gibson simply couldn’t compete against Clint Capela, which will likely force the hand of management to find another competent center with a physically imposing frame to pair with Mitchell Robinson.
While there is a chance the Knicks bring back Noel, who set a career-high in blocked shots last season with 2.2 per game, they might find their money spent better elsewhere. The Knicks will have $5 million in additional salary to spend, which is what Noel earned last season for starting 41 games, the most since his 2015 campaign with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Gibson could also be a consideration, despite the fact he is 36 years old and was clearly outmuscled during the playoffs. However, he is a relentless player that exerts maximum effort and energy. It doesn’t seem the Knicks are too intrigued by Gibson as a future option, though, considering he played a little bit more than half the season and signed for $2.28 million after Robinson went down with a fractured hand.
Nonetheless, let’s take a look at a few options the Knicks should consider this off-season to further bolster their frontcourt.
Three big men to target this offseason for the Knicks:
1.) Myles Turner
While President Leon Rose would have to trade for Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers, he is an adequate center who offers more offensive production than Gibson, Noel, and Robinson. Last season, he averaged 12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, and a career-high 3.4 blocks per game. He is a defensive menace at 25 years old and has his best basketball ahead of him. He started 47 games for the Pacers last year, and with Domantas Sabonis also playing a similar position, the Pacers could be looking to part ways with Turner for capital.
Unless Indiana is asking for a behemoth package in return, this is a scenario the Knicks should heavily consider.
2.) Jarrett Allen
Another free-agent target could be Jarrett Allen, who is only 23 and coming off a solid season with the Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers. Allen is also a more efficient scorer than Robinson, and offering a new point guard a solid option down low who can perform well in the pick and roll game would be ideal.
Bobby Marks of ESPN reported that the Knicks could be intrigued by Jarrett, and while he has a qualifying offer of $7.7 million for this upcoming season, it seems as if Cleveland will allow him to test the market. Of course, Cleveland will have the opportunity to match any offers, but if Allen earns more than the QO, he could easily part ways and find himself transitioning back to the Big Apple.
3.) Hassan Whiteside
If head coach Tom Thibodeau wants to focus on defense, Hassan Whiteside could be an option for the Knicks. As a two-time blocking champ and All-Defensive player in 2015, the 32-year-old could still be an adequate player behind Robinson.
Last year with the Sacramento Kings, he played in 36 games, averaging 8.1 points, 1.3 blocks, and 6.0 rebounds. However, during the 2019 season with Portland, he averaged 15.5 points, 2.9 blocks, and 13.5 rebounds. There’s no question he has plenty of defensive prowess, and at 7’0″ and 265-pounds, he’s exactly the imposing force the Knicks need during the postseason.
Whiteside would likely be the cheapest of the bunch, as he earned just $2.3 million last season with Sacramento.
Out of these three options, who would you want the Knicks to land? Comment below!