In the last few games, Julius Randle has looked like an all-star. He looks nothing like the isolation heavy power forward he was last year.
He has looked a lot more like a point forward.
This is the type of play we were expecting when we signed him as our top free agent last year. His shooting has improved, but what has been even more impressive is his passing. It’s nice to see him emphasize that aspect of his game this season, but what it also shows us is the Knicks are lacking leadership from the point guard position.
Randle is doing a lot of the ball-handling duties out of necessity. New York went into the draft and free agency with point guard being the number #1 need. Besides the unexpected spark from Immanuel Quickley, the Knicks look like they have failed thus far. With point guard being a necessity, the Knicks had to bring back Elfrid Payton because they didn’t have enough dependable ball handlers.
Like many, I didn’t expect to see Payton back in a Knick uniform ever again.
Should the Knicks look to make more changes at point guard so early in the season? There are generally a few ways fans would like the Knicks to address the void at point guard. Which option do you believe sounds good for the Knicks right now?
Option #1: Stand pat until the deadline
Patience is the virtue most needed by a Knicks fan. If you’re a proponent for option #1, you probably are confident that Quickley is the future starting point guard. His unexpected start to his NBA career has many convinced he has the talent to competently lead the Knicks. If you believe so, you probably think not making any moves would be the best action for now. Even if Quickley would come back from injury and not thrive right away, the coaching staff should give him time.
Between now and the deadline is sufficient time to see if he can be the long-term solution at point guard. If the point guard options are clearly not working by the deadline, the front office should explore bringing in help for the rest of the season. We hope this uncertainty clears up when Quickley comes back soon. Currently, he is listed as day to day with a hip pointer.
Even if Quickley doesn’t have any regular breakout performances, he should be given minutes at point guard. It goes beyond having faith that he will continue his hot start. This year should be about the development of the youth. In addition to waiting for Quickley, we have not seen court time from Austin Rivers. Once everyone is back healthy, the Knicks can go with the hot hand between Rivers, Dennis Smith Jr., or Frank Ntilikina.
The playoffs shouldn’t be the only goal for the Knicks. It’s about building a foundation for the future.
Option #2: Add a free agent Point Guard
If you are a person who thinks option #2 is the best course of action, you think that the Knicks point guard situation needs to be addressed immediately. To make this happen, one or more of the current Knicks will not have a future on the team. There are several free-agent point guards who have played solid roles on NBA teams recently. These options can help solidify the Knicks point guard position better than some of the current options. Instead of giving valuable floor time to someone who doesn’t have a future role, the front office can try and bring in someone new. Currently, the Knicks have a full roster of 15, and the downside to bringing in a free agent is the Knicks must cut a player to make room.
2019-20 7.3pts 2.1asts 2.3rbs
Emmanuel Mudiay is a free agent
2019-20 11.6pts 3.8asts 2.4rbs
Shabazz Napier is currently a free agent
Option #3: Immediate Gratification (significant upgrade via trade)
With the 2021 free-agent class coming up, some fans may be on board with option #3. In other words, the Knicks need to use their assets to go get a franchise cornerstone point guard. The Knicks have coveted many point guards, and the front office has wanted to obtain a disgruntled star.
So far, none that fit the Knicks timeline have come about.
There may be a few point guards who may available soon due to their franchise situations. In fact, two of the names on this list will be free agents in 2021. However, waiting to make an offer may not beneficial in those cases.
Lonzo Ball will be a restricted free agent. The New Orleans Pelicans, or the team that has his rights, can match any offer made for the point guard. That means outbidding a team doesn’t guarantee he can be had this offseason without having his rights. Devonte’ Graham is not a restricted free agent, but Charlotte owns his bird rights. That means they can exceed their cap to resign him.
2019-20 stats 18.2ppg 7.5asts 3.4rbs
Devonte Graham is a free agent for Summer 2021
The Charlotte Hornets have drafted Lamelo Ball with the 3rd pick in the 2020 NBA draft. In the starting lineup, Terry Rozier has been moved to start at shooting guard. Some believe they will make either Graham or Rozier available in trade. The downside is even if the Knicks acquire Graham, he would not be a restricted free agent. There would need to be some type of assurance he would resign with the Knicks. Terry Rozier is ball dominant and looks to score more than distribute.
2019-20 stats 11.3ppg 6.1asts 6.1rbs
Lonzo Ball is a restricted free agent in Summer 2021
The Pelicans have drafted Kira Lewis Jr. with the 13th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, then Eric Bledsoe was acquired in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks. Bledsoe is under contract for the next 3 seasons, and this may make it tough for the Pelicans to commit long-term to Ball when he’s a free agent this summer. New Orleans may try to get some value in return by trading him before then, but the downside for the Knicks is Ball may get large offers in free agency. Will the Knicks be willing to spend $20M per year on a point guard that hasn’t averaged over 12 points a game in 4 seasons in the NBA.
2019-20 stats 20.4ppg 4.8asts 3.9rbs
Kemba Walker contract runs until 2022-23
Kemba Walker is an established point guard that can bring excellent shooting and leadership to New York. He has yet to play this year due to knee issues. The Boston Celtics were rumored to put him in several trade proposals this past offseason.
Which option seems most likely in the short term?
I think the Knicks should wait until the deadline to make a decision unless a talented point guard is put on the market at a reasonable asking price. Any talented point guards the Knicks would want will probably be a pricey acquisition. The teams would want a pick or multiple picks in return. With the slow start of the current Knicks point guards, their value has never been lower. So draft assets will be the main assets used for trade, along with players on expiring contracts being used to make the financial parts work.