After an offseason, where the Knicks ended up being linked to a star (and ended up not getting) in Donovan Mitchell, the Knicks find themselves preparing for training camp. They head into training camp with a roster mostly intact from last season, (with a few exceptions). Here’s why I believe that keeping the roster intact is one of the many silver linings for the Knicks coming into the season…
1. Solid free agent signings
They were able to pick up two new pieces, Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Hartstein, in free agency.
They paid Brunson a 4-year/104 million contract and Hartenstein a 2-year/16.7 million contract.
With Brunson, the Knicks shored up their Point Guard rotation with a guy, who will most likely be the new starting PG once the season starts. With his play for the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs alongside Luka Doncic, Brunson is a clear upgrade from Alec Burks and Kemba Walker from last year. With Brunson (and a healthy Derrick Rose along with some Immanuel Quickley) the Knicks will hopefully have solid playmaking that they lacked in their offense last year. Although I’m not a fan of giving Brunson the money he got (which is 104 million), it was a necessary expense to improve a real area of weakness of the team.
As for Hartenstein, he’s a solid backup center that has a different style of play than the Knicks’ current Starting Center, Mitchell Robinson. Therefore Inserting Hartenstein can help the Knicks not only space the floor with his shooting but can change a bit of the Knicks’ style. Hartenstein also makes them more difficult to guard against on offense, while providing solid defense with his size at 7’0” and 250 lbs.
He was solid as the backup center last season with the Los Angeles Clippers, as well as spent time in the Houston Rockets previously. This will be his first real major NBA contract, now it will be time to prove himself, which I think he’ll be able to do. He’ll also have some opportunities to start when Robinson gets hurt from time to time as I see him as a clear upgrade over the likes of Nerlens Noel or Taj Gibson at the center.
2. An Abundance of Draft Captial
With the recent moves in the 2022 draft that Knicks have done, they now have assets to boost future trades and/or to pick up young talent. In the 2022 draft, the Knicks have acquired future picks and were able to trade guys like Kemba off the team. Now the Knicks have a good amount of picks coming in a couple of future drafts to help build their young core (OR use in a trade to get midseason upgrades if needed).
Plus they still have most if not all of their own picks going forward since they didn’t do the Mitchell trade with the Utah Jazz. With the recent trades, the Knicks also have control of potentially nine future picks (first and seconds) from other teams going forward for future trades. Who knows if the Knicks will keep them all though, we’ll have to see.
3. A Plethora of Young Talent
With the young core, headlined by RJ Barrett alongside the likes Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, Quickley, Robinson, Cam Reddish, Deuce McBride, and Jericho Sims the Knicks has more than enough young talent to have them develop into something more solid and polished, ready to take the league by storm if given time, patience and development. This is why I’m glad we didn’t do the Mitchell trade because we would have to give up many or not most of our young core for one all-star, who if they get hurt brings us back to the bottom again. Many of these guys were on the playoff team a few years ago with Julius Randle and coach Tom Thibodeau. If we can get to the playoffs with this core before, I believe we can do it again.
In addition, I am also excited for our new second-round draft pick Trevor Keels who’s 6’5 and 224 lbs. He’s someone who can be a solid two-way perimeter player who can play the SG or SF position. He recently signed a two-way contract with the Knicks too.
This is where you’ll see the benefits of keeping the roster intact. Guys get to know how to play together, they are more familiar with where each person likes to get the ball. They also get familiar with each person’s skill sets as well as strengths and weaknesses.
Especially with a younger roster, the more time they spend playing together, the more time they get to bond and connect with each other and you’ll eventually see it on the court as well. Keeping the core intact helps to not upset the chemistry too much. Keeping many of the same guys on the same team helps with team success.
Sure, you can add a guy or two to help cover up some of the other team’s weaknesses but still, if the majority of the players are familiar with each other, it helps with team success (unless the core is not good enough and it has been given years to see if they could be). Nonetheless, this core group of guys has many of the players (and coaching staff) of the 2020-21 Knicks team that won the four seed in the eastern conference. If they can do it before, I believe they can do it again.
Well there you have it, those are some of the reasons I’m optimistic about the Knicks’ 2023-23 season. Could I be wrong? Sure, but I’m optimistic that this could be a good one for my Knicks. Now we’ll have to wait and see.