HomeSportsNew York Knicks 2024 NBA offseason preview: Staying the course should be...

New York Knicks 2024 NBA offseason preview: Staying the course should be the focus

Season 2023-24: 50-32

Highlight: The evolution of Jalen Brunson becoming a near-superstar and a legitimate playoff performer at the highest level, cementing his status as the future of New York Knicks basketball.

Painful. Literal. The Knicks were about as healthy as a dead person in the final stretch of their season, having lost OG Anunoby, Julius Randle, Bojan Bogdanović and Mitchell Robinson to injuries, while members of the remaining cast – Brunson, Josh Hart and Anunoby returned for Game 7 – we played hurt and played tough minutes.

Essentially, the Knicks entered the second half of the season with the real argument that they were the deepest team in the Eastern Conference, but ended up running on fumes, ultimately causing their playoff demise, while losing backup point guard Miles McBride had to start in multiple games.

Needless to say, it’s impossible to point the finger too hard at New York because the gas tank is empty. Instead, the main takeaway from this season is how close they are to becoming an Eastern Conference powerhouse, pending the re-signing of Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein.

Furthermore, in the absence of three starters, Tom Thibodeau’s remaining troops stepped up and ended up becoming better and more hardened NBA players as a direct result.

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McBride will enter next season and be seen as one of the better backup point guards in the league. Hart will be seen as more than a role player, but a major key to success with his versatility as a rebounder, playmaker and source of energy. Hartenstein is now likely to be seen as worthy of a full-time role this summer, regardless of where he ends up.

All of this does pose some challenges for the Knicks when it comes to keeping the team together long-term. Considering New York has Brunson, Hart, and McBride all on extremely team-friendly contracts, a way to keep most of this roster intact seems plausible.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 19: Josh Hart #3 of the New York Knicks walks the court during the second quarter against the Indiana Pacers in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Second Round Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 2024 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this photo, user agrees to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Josh Hart and the Knicks had a brutal end to the season, but the future looks bright. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Is medicine man a realistic question? Injury prevention strategy aside, the Knicks could find a new forward, as they appeared to function just fine, even deep into the playoffs, without Randle, who played outside the flow of the offense for years. If they can terminate his contract and replace him with someone who better fits the structure of this roster, that would be an attractive option.

Kansas senior Kevin McCullar Jr. could score right away with the secondary, or the Knicks could take Carlton “Bub” Carrington, a freshman guard from Pittsburgh, in the first round. The second-round pick could be used as more of a draft-and-stash pick, with 6-foot-4 guard Justin Edwards of Kentucky or 6-8 wing Melvin Ajinça ​​of France possible.

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Draft picks: Nos. 24, 25 and 38

The Knicks will be an over-the-cap team this summer, as Anunoby’s cap hold will undoubtedly keep them above that limit. The 3&D forward is also expected to receive a salary that will make him the team’s highest-paid player.

Assuming Anunoby is taken care of, Hartenstein is the next man in line. The Knicks only have early bird rights to him so will be limited in what they can offer. That said, Hartenstein’s open market value may not be too different from any Knicks offer, so he could come back. It’s a big summer for the Knicks, and they’ll have to do a thorough job if they want much of the roster to return.

Keyless agents

OG Anunoby (UFA – assuming he declines player option)

Isaiah Hartenstein (UFA)

Alec Burks (UFA)

Precious Achiuwa (RFA)

Stay healthy and advance in the play-offs. This team is built to compete now and could have a nice five-year run if it can keep the right players. A final round in the near future cannot be ruled out.

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Talk about defying expectations. The Knicks showed marked improvement, driven by Brunson’s meteoric rise and the elevated play of Donte DiVincenzo and Hart. DiVincenzo and Hart took full advantage of their revival within minutes and became invaluable to fantasy managers. Injuries and a midseason trade limited those minutes, but the chemistry between the trio of former Villamova Wildcats was evident.

Thibodeau’s coaching ethos of running tight rotations with heavy minutes for the starting unit bodes well for fantasy purposes – until players get hurt. McBride and Achiuwa had their moments as a result, and the Knicks’ underrated depth put them and fantasy managers at different points. Hartenstein was another gem, becoming one of the top waiver wire picks of the year after Robinson went down with an ankle injury in December. Hartenstein finished the year ranked 75th in category competitions, and the Knicks should try to bring him back.

The Knicks now face a crucial decision regarding Randle. After rising to the second seed in the Eastern Conference and reaching the Conference Finals without him, the team’s success has raised some questions. The option of moving Randle is on the table. Should Randle remain a Knick, he would still need to be drafted in the fifth or sixth round.

Additionally, Anunoby’s likely decision to forego his $19 million player option adds to the intrigue of the upcoming offseason. Change is undoubtedly on the horizon, but the Knicks are in the most promising position they’ve been in as a franchise in two decades.

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