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

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

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 19: Josh Hart #3 of the New York Knicks crosses the court in 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. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading or using this photograph, the user agrees to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

2023-24 season: 50-32

Stand out: The evolution of Jalen Brunson becoming almost a superstar and a legitimate top-tier playoff player, solidifying his status as the future of New York Knicks basketball.

Harmfully. Literally. The Knicks were as healthy as a dead person in the final stages of their season, having lost OG Anunoby, Julius Randle, Bojan Bogdanović and Mitchell Robinson to injuries, while the remaining cast members (Brunson, Josh Hart and Anunoby returned for Game 7: We played injured and played heavy minutes.

Essentially, the Knicks came into the second half of the season with a real claim to being the deepest team in the Eastern Conference, but ended up burning out, ultimately leading to their playoff demise, while having to start backup point guard Miles McBride in multiple games.

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

Additionally, in the absence of three starters, Tom Thibodeau’s remaining troops stepped up and ultimately became better, tougher NBA players as a direct result.

McBride will enter next season viewed as one of the best backup point guards in the league. Hart will be viewed as more than a role player, but an important key to success with his versatility as a rebounder, playmaker and powerhouse. Hartenstein entering this summer is now likely to be considered worthy of starting full-time, regardless of where he ends up.

All of this presents some challenges for the Knicks in regards to keeping the team together long-term. However, given that New York has Brunson, Hart and McBride on extremely team-friendly contracts, a path to keeping most of this roster intact seems plausible.

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

Is the witch doctor a realistic question? Injury prevention strategy aside, the Knicks could find a new power forward, as they have proven to work well, even in the playoffs, without Randle, who for years has been playing outside the flow of the offense. If they can cancel his contract and replace him with someone who better fits this roster structure, it would be an attractive option.

Kansas senior Kevin McCullar Jr. could provide some immediate scoring with the secondary unit, or the Knicks could try to target Carlton “Bub” Carrington, a rookie guard out of Pittsburgh, in the first round. The second-round pick could be used more as a draft pick and reserve, with 6-foot-8 guard Justin Edwards of Kentucky or 6-foot-8 wing Melvin Ajinça ​​of France as possibilities.

Draft picks: Nos. 24, 25 and 38

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

Assuming they take care of Anunoby, Hartenstein is the next man up. The Knicks only have early rights to him and therefore will be limited in what they can offer. That said, Hartenstein’s open market value might not deviate too much from any offer from the Knicks, so he could return. It’s a big summer for the Knicks and they’ll have to be thorough if they want much of their roster to return.

Key free agents

OG Anunoby (UFA, assuming he declines player option)

Isaiah Hartenstein (UFA)

Alec Burks (UFA)

Beautiful Achiuwa (FRG)

Stay healthy and go further in the playoffs. This team is built to compete now and could have a good five-year window if it can retain the right players. A final cannot be ruled out in the near future.

Talk about defying expectations. The Knicks showed marked improvement, buoyed by the meteoric rise of Brunson and the elevated play of Donté DiVincenzo and Hart. DiVincenzo and Hart made the most of their surge in the final minutes, becoming invaluable assets for fantasy managers. Injuries and a midseason trade opened up those minutes, but the chemistry was clear between the trio of former Villamova Wildcats.

Thibodeau’s coaching ethos of running tight rotations with lots of minutes for the starting unit tends to bode well for fantasy purposes, until players get injured. As a result, McBride and Achiuwa had their moments, and the Knicks’ underrated depth carried them and fantasy managers at several points. Hartenstein was another gem, becoming one of the year’s top waiver picks after Robinson suffered an ankle injury in December. Hartenstein finished the year 75th in top leagues, and the Knicks should try to get him back.

The Knicks now face a pivotal decision regarding Randle. Having risen to second place in the Eastern Conference and one game away from reaching the Conference finals without him, the team’s success has raised some questions. The possibility of moving Randle is on the table. If Randle remains a Knick, he should still be selected in the fifth or sixth round.

Additionally, Anunoby’s likely decision to pick up his $19 million player option adds to the intrigue of the upcoming offseason. Change is certainly 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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