With training camps less than a month away, basketball season is getting closer. Despite the offseason being mostly resolved, the Knicks still have some open questions.
Here are three to keep in mind as preseason approaches:
Does Evan Fournier play for this team?
As one of New York’s key signings during the 2021 off-season, Fournier appeared to be an important part of the rotation, a sentiment supported by his stellar 2022 season. After a rocky start to last season, Tom Thibodeau benched him in a major rotational shake-up that steered the season in the right direction.
He only played in 14 games after mid-November, either in the garbage time or due to an injury spate, scoring 28.1 percent from three. Having fallen out of favour, many expected Fournier, whose contract expires next summer, to have been negotiated by now.
Still, the Knicks have retained him thus far, with the loudest trade talks coming from the man himself. Meanwhile, he ripped up the FIBA World Cup, keeping his credibility as an emergency division.
Can they convince Fournier to stay even if he doesn’t get consistent minutes? His contract is valuable as a descending paycheck filler in a blockbuster trade, the type the Knicks are trying to make.
The alternative is to trade it, which may require a pick to be included. New York could fire him to let him sign elsewhere and use the roster spot, but that would be a waste.
Somehow this needs to be sorted out before the season starts unless they want a disgruntled veteran in their dressing room.
Where is the Immanuel Quickley extension?
The runner-up for the Sixth Man of the Year and the big leap forward this year was Quickley, the third-year guard who has grown from an electric sniper to an all-around combo threat. Whether it’s a trusted part of the rotation or a commodity, the Knicks will want to secure him for the long haul after that fine season at age 24.
Quickley enters the fourth and final year of his rookie deal, after which he may begin another renewal or receive restricted free agency. As with their other prominent prospects and rotational pieces, New York will likely let him close another deal, but with him being eligible on July 1 and the rest of their summer trades likely to be complete, where is that?
SNY’s Ian Begley thinks it will happen around October, closer to the regular season, and it’s suggested that Quickley wants something over $20 million a year. The Knicks shouldn’t have to negotiate much, and the relationship seems strong, so hopefully this is just timing and prioritization that keeps the resolution going.
Is efficient RJ real?
Fans have been waiting for the star jump for a long time RJ Barrett, who has showcased his many skills on several dimensions in his four NBA seasons since the Knicks drafted him third overall. However, he never managed to put it together for a full season, leaving fans teased and haunted by flashes of brilliance.
The latest examples? A promising postseason run and a blistering FIBA World Cup.
Barrett’s three-game stretch to close out New York’s first round against the Cleveland Cavaliers saw him average 22 points per game and shoot 56 percent from the field, which he followed up with a solid run against the eventual Finals- contender Miami Heat. He’s turned out the lights in FIBA, including a 13-14 shooting game with 31 points.
If this is real, and Barrett is willing to leverage this efficiency full-time, the Knicks may not need the star trade they are pursuing. Barrett is the X Factor of their season, and if he consistently gets shots while doing some of the other things we’ve seen from him, New York could be looking at contention.