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  1. #1
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    What's Next for the Knicks?

    Offseason moves for the New York Knicks: What comes next in the rebuilding process?

    Now that the New York Knicks have been eliminated from the postseason, there is only one question:

    What is next?

    The Knicks defied expectations this season, going from what many perceived as a team buried in the bottom of the standings to a roster of overachieving players.

    The hard part now comes with taking that next step from first-round fodder to a team that can have success in the playoffs.

    Managing expectations

    No team in the NBA this season outperformed expectations more than New York. Predicted to win 24.7 games when the season started and finish with the third-worst record in the NBA, New York won 41 games and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

    The work by the Knicks this season has not gone unnoticed. In the most recent edition of ESPN's Future Power Rankings, New York jumped from No. 27 last March to No. 7.

    New York's 22-win improvement was not a result of taking a one-year approach, spending recklessly in free agency or making shortsighted trades for a quick fix. Instead, it was about the Knicks hiring the right coach in Tom Thibodeau and identifying the right talent (either in free agency or in trades) that fit his style of play.

    The end result has given New York a blueprint to use as the front office builds the roster, not only this offseason but in the future.


    Fair or unfair, now the focus will turn to how New York can, at the minimum, duplicate the success from this season and ideally take another step forward. A team that many thought would be in the lottery now goes from under the radar to one expected to win each night and contend for a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference.

    Roster building in the NBA is humbling, and history has proved that one ill-advised transaction can send a team that overachieved in one season to one stuck on the treadmill of mediocrity for the foreseeable future.

    Own free agents, cap space, trade market or a combination of all 3?

    Entering this offseason, the Knicks have multiple options for continuing to improve the roster:

    • Building through the draft, internal development of their own players and re-signing key free agents such as Derrick Rose and Alec Burks.

    • Looking to land a big-name free agent with up to $50 million in cap space (though at the expense of their own free agents).

    • Making a big trade, using a combination of cap space, draft picks and young players on controllable contracts.



    Let's take a look at all three paths in more detail.

    Own free agents

    The "placeholder" phrase is usually referenced when a player is on a one-year contract and the team has no intention to sign once the season ends -- and was unfairly used (by this writer) when describing the Knicks' additions of Derrick Rose, Alec Burks, Reggie Bullock and Nerlens Noel.

    Each of those four has proved to have value to New York, giving the team reason to bring them back in 2021-22.

    • Rose, now a decade removed from his pre-injury MVP season, continues to show that age is just a number. In his 35 regular-season games with New York, the 32-year-old Rose averaged 14.9 points on 48.7% shooting from the field. In the first-round loss to Atlanta, Rose averaged 22.8 points and shot 50.7% from the field and 50% from 3. He finished third this season in league's Sixth Man of the Year voting.

    • After splitting time in Golden State and Philadelphia last year, Burks signed a one-year, $6 million contract in November. The guard scored double-digit points 28 times this season while shooting 41.5% from 3.

    • Bullock started 64 games at small forward this season, averaging 10.9 points. He ranked second among all small forwards in defensive real plus-minus.

    • Noel started 41 games at center and averaged 2.2 blocks per game, ranking third in the NBA behind Myles Turner and Rudy Gobert.



    Of course, the question for each will come down to both price and length of a new contract. The four players have outplayed their current contracts by a total of $28.4 million, per ProFitX, with Rose coming in at $15.1 million. (He earned $7.7 million this season.)

    Would New York commit multiyear contracts and at a significant cost to keep the same roster together?

    The 2015-16 Miami Heat are a good example of the downside of falling in love with your own free agents. The Heat finished that season 48-34 and lost in the second round to Toronto. In the offseason, they signed their own free agents to four-year contracts: James Johnson ($60 million), Tyler Johnson ($50 million) and Dion Waiters ($47.3 million).

    The following season, they finished .500, and they missed the playoffs in two of the next three seasons.


    Cap space

    In November, the Leon Rose-led front office took a conservative approach in its first offseason at the helm, mostly adding players on one-year contracts. Now, a season later, the Knicks are once again in position to have more than $50 million in cap space available. The difference now is that the goalposts have moved; New York is no longer in the early stages of a rebuild.

    New York could make a big splash in free agency, but doing so would likely mean having to renounce some of their own free agents, including Rose, Noel, Burks and Bullock. It is unlikely that New York could re-sign all four players and still have significant room available to target a player such as Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Dennis Schroder or Lonzo Ball.

    The Knicks front office showed patience last offseason, and that should continue again if their primary targets are off the board.


    The disgruntled All-Star

    There will be a time in the next year, maybe as soon as this summer, when the next All-NBA player will ask out of his current situation. When he does, the Knicks will have a decision to make.

    Do they push all their assets to the middle of the table if a player like Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal becomes available or do they continue to let this roster grow organically?

    The James Harden trade in January confirmed that the asking price for a franchise player with multiple years left on their contract is three unprotected firsts, rights to swap first and players with high upside on controllable contracts. Right now, the Knicks check the boxes on all three categories.

    As their crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets showed, signing stars like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving with cap space is the more efficient way to build a roster, because it does not deplete existing depth.

    However, there is no Durant or Irving in this year's free-agent crop (unless, of course, Kawhi Leonard elects not to remain with the LA Clippers), and the Knicks next best chance to acquire an All-Star could be on the trade front and not in free agency.

    Julius Randle

    When Randle signed a three-year, $60 million contract in 2019, the conversation two years later was certain to be about whether New York was going to guarantee the last year of his salary.

    At the time when he signed the contract, Randle was not viewed as an All-Star, and only $4 million of his $19.8 million salary was guaranteed. The small protection in salary gave New York an out if the forward underperformed and it wanted to go in a different direction.

    Now, two years later, even after a disappointing playoff showing, Randle's contract is seen as one of the best bargains in the NBA.

    According to ProFitX, Randle outperformed his contract in 2020-21 by $13 million, and he is on pace to earn close to a max contract when he is a free agent in 2022.

    Because Randle does not meet the renegotiation requirements (third anniversary of a four-year contract) to bump up his salary in 2021-22, the only financial option that New York has is to offer Randle a four-year, $106 million extension.


    Despite an underwhelming performance in the playoffs, it is likely that Randle turns down that extension, not because he does not want to play in New York but because the $23.7 million starting salary is $11 million less than what he could earn with New York or perhaps another team in 2022.

    A five-year contract with the Knicks in 2022 projects to come in $100 million higher.

    "I want to be a part of building something from the ground up. There's no better place than New York to do it, no better organization or fan base that's hungrier ... than here in New York," Randle said on The Woj Pod. "I want to be a part of that, honestly, for the rest of my career. I wanted to be one of the greats here ... I don't think there would be any better place to win other than here."

    Unlike rookie extensions that cannot be extended once the regular season begins, there is no deadline for Randle to sign an extension, because he is in the last year of his contract.

    One argument in favor of Randle signing the extension, even if it is below the value he might be able to get on the open market in 2022, is his minutes load. He played more minutes than any NBA player in 2020-21. Can his body sustain playing at the same All-NBA pace with a heavy workload for a second consecutive season?

    That is a question Randle will have to answer this offseason on whether to pass on $106 million in guaranteed money or bet on himself as a free agent.

    Resources to build the roster

    Cap space: $50 million-plus in 2021-22 and $13 million at the draft
    The draft: two first-round picks and a second-rounder (from Detroit)
    Future draft assets: own and Dallas (2023)
    Exceptions: $4.9 million room midlevel (if under the cap)
    Cash: $5.8 million to send or receive in a trade

    Dates to watch

    • Randle has $4 million guaranteed in his contract, with the remaining $15.8 million becoming guaranteed if he is on the roster past July 31.

    • The Knicks have until Aug. 1 to exercise the $1.8 million team option of Mitchell Robinson. If the option is declined, Robinson will become a restricted free agent if New York tenders him a $2.1 million qualifying offer. If the option is exercised, Robinson would then become an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

    • New York has until Aug. 1 to tender Frank Ntilikina a one-year, $7.0 million qualifying offer. The one-year contract is $1.3 million less than what Ntilikina could have received because the guard failed to reach the starter criteria in his contract. The former top-10 pick played a career-low 33 games and 9.8 minutes per game this season. If the Knicks make the qualifying offer, they would have until mid-August to pull it without Ntilikina's consent.

    Restrictions

    • Robinson cannot be traded until New York exercises the team option in his contract.

    • The guaranteed portion of salary for Randle ($4 million), Luca Vildoza ($0) and Norvel Pelle ($0) count as outgoing salary in a trade.

    Extension eligible

    • Besides Randle, the Knicks have until the day prior to the start of the season to extend former lottery pick Kevin Knox II. The forward appeared in only 16 games after the All-Star break, playing a total of 68 minutes.

    • Robinson becomes extension eligible if the Knicks exercise his $1.8 million team option for 2021-22. Before breaking his right foot in late March, Robinson had been averaging 8.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. He is eligible for an additional four seasons and up to a projected $55 million in new money.

    The draft

    The Knicks head into the draft with four selections: their own first-round pick, a first-round pick from the Mavericks, an early second-round pick from the Pistons that has similar value to a first-round pick and a late second-round pick (from Philadelphia).

    New York also owns all of its future first-round picks and has a future first-round pick from Dallas that is top-10 protected in 2023, 2024 and 2025. If it does not convey by 2025, it turns into a 2025 second-round pick.

    Here's how ESPN's Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz have New York selecting in July:

    No. 19 (via DAL): James Bouknight | SG | Connecticut

    No. 21 (own): Ziaire Williams | SG/SF | Stanford

    No. 32 (via DET): Day'Ron Sharpe | C | North Carolina

    No. 58 (via PHI): Santi Aldama | PF | Loyola Maryland

    Knicks president Leon Rose was active in his first draft in November. The first trade saw New York send a 2020 second-rounder (from Charlotte) to Utah and move up four slots in the first round (from No. 27 to No. 23). The first from Utah was then sent to Minnesota as a part of a three-team trade with Oklahoma City. In return, the Knicks received the rights to Immanuel Quickley (No. 25) and a second-round pick from Detroit in 2023.
    https://www.espn.com/nba/insider/sto...ilding-process

    Hollinger: Knicks and Grizzlies are eliminated. Now comes the hard part

    I see three big questions for next season’s Knicks.

    First, can Julius Randle really shoot this well again? Julius Randle’s breakout season won him the Most Improved Player trophy, and deservedly so. He shot 41.1 percent from 3 and 81.1 percent from the line, both of which blew away his previous career highs, but even more impressive was the heavy diet of tough, contested 2s that he nonetheless converted at reasonable efficiency.

    Even if those numbers drop off a bit next season, his contract ($19.8 million plus incentives for next season) is going to be a screaming bargain. While the playoff series against Atlanta showcased his limitations as an alpha scorer, the big picture is that the Knicks have themselves a young-ish (26) star at forward to help build around. Incidentally, Randle’s contract can be extended but only at 120 percent of his 2020-21 salary — a number he’s likely played himself past. Expect the Knicks to offer it as a courtesy, and for Randle to decline.

    Second, can New York’s “Jedi” 3-point defense hold up for another year? This is where some regression is likely. The Knicks led the league in opponent 3-point percentage despite giving up a relatively high proportion of open or semi-contested 3s; history tells us this trend is unlikely to continue, and a regression would pull New York’s third-ranked defense back toward the middle of the pack.

    Above all, however, stands the most important question: Can the Knicks get some more help? The postseason exposed how reliant the Knicks are on Randle offensively and how little weaponry they possess to attack teams in alternate ways. Their second option, guard Derrick Rose, is 32 with a checkered injury history and will be a free agent. Not having Mitchell Robinson’s rim-running certainly hurt against Atlanta, and he’ll be back on one of the league’s most valuable contracts (a mere $1.8 million).

    More importantly, the Knicks enter the offseason with an estimated $55 million in cap room, a now-established All-Star in his prime in Randle and several good young players to build around. Combine that with the lure of the Big Apple, and this should be the perfect lure for the Knicks to finally get their superstar free agent!

    Then you look at this year’s free-agent class and … oh.


    The Knicks, as luck would have it, can make their best free-agent case in two decades in what is perhaps the lamest free-agent market in two decades. That $55 million won’t be the number in reality, as some of it almost certainly will be targeted to the returns of Rose and Reggie Bullock. However, the Knicks are fortunate that both have reasonable cap holds ($9.9 million for Rose, $5.6 million for Bullock). That means New York could only count them for those amounts while still having max cap space and then go back and sign Rose and Bullock for higher amounts if need be.

    The Knicks could actually retain more veterans and still have cap room because Alec Burks ($7.8 million cap hold) and Nerlens Noel ($6.5 million) are in similar situations. But New York didn’t go through all the pain of the last few seasons just to run it back with the same team, one that massively overachieved and still lost in the first round of the playoffs. Staying around $40 million in room lets them pursue veterans on max contracts and/or trades that take in salary from another team.

    As noted above, the tricky part is figuring out who to pay in a market with few surefire difference-makers. As one former Knicks coach might have put it, Kevin Durant isn’t walking through that door. Additionally, New York’s insatiable zest for something shiny has repeatedly burned it in the past, so there is some concern here. The ultimate Knicks move, surely, would be shelling out a multi-year, max-level contract for a 30-something former All-Star with limited floor-spacing gravity. Alas, that player exists in this market (DeMar DeRozan).

    OK, back to being positive. The dream scenario, obviously, is that Kawhi Leonard gets frustrated with another Clippers playoff exit and decides to take his talents to the Garden. Nobody is getting those kinds of smoke signals right now, but funny things can happen between the end of the playoffs and the start of free agency.

    More realistic, perhaps, is that Phoenix’s Chris Paul might take a liking to the situation in New York. The Knicks are desperate for a point guard, and Paul’s arrival would bring instant credibility, much as it did to the Suns. However, Paul may sign an extension with Phoenix before he ever hits the free-agent market.

    More importantly, perhaps, Paul is 36 years old and would likely require a three-year commitment at close to $40 million a year (the so-called “over-38” rule would prevent the Knicks from going longer than three years). With the age of Randle, several young players in the rotation (RJ Barrett, Robinson, Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin) and two more firsts coming this year, the Knicks have a chance to build something that actually has some staying power. I know this is a foreign concept in New York, but stay with me: What if they could put together a team that’s still good five years from now?

    That’s where the hard decisions come. The best young free agent that doesn’t play the same position as Randle is Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball. As a point guard who has improved vastly as a shooter and also has the size to finish games in backcourts with Rose, he seems like an obvious fit in New York. His limitations as an on-ball creator in the half court might not give Randle as much help as the Knicks would prefer, but those are the types of decisions facing teams in this market.
    Ball is also a restricted free agent, and the Pelicans can match any contract offer. However, New Orleans is in a tight spot with the luxury tax, standing just $18 million from next year’s line before paying Ball or fellow free agent Josh Hart.
    While the Pelicans can cut some money in other ways (trading or stretching Eric Bledsoe, for instance), the math still gets tricky if the Knicks are willing to pay Ball $25 million a year.

    Ball wouldn’t be the high-level difference-maker that would vault the Knicks into contention, but he’d help make the case for one to arrive in the future. The Knicks could then re-sign the veterans named above and use them as the salary match in any future trade for an A-lister.

    Overpaying Ball sounds a lot more compelling when you start looking at the Knicks’ alternatives. Sans Ball, they might actually be better off repeating the strategy of last summer and trying again next summer, when the Knicks could once again have max cap room despite having to pay Randle. New York could still re-sign the veterans who helped so much this past season, overpaying on 1+1 deals similar to what Miami did this past summer, but by keeping the powder relatively dry New York will be in the catbird’s seat to pounce if an unhappy veteran (*cough* Beal *cough*) demands a trade.

    There still is one perfect fit, however, in that scenario: Kyle Lowry. A one-year overpay for the max would deliver a gritty point guard who can still play at a high level, while not torching the Knicks’ future. Long-term, that might be preferable to committing $100 million or so to Ball.

    Nonetheless, in the big picture, you can see the quandary the Knicks face: Despite having oodles of cap space and one of the league’s most attractive markets, the timing isn’t really set up to reel in a big fish right now. It seems that player is more likely to come in trade rather than free agency, and that could create some issues if expectations get too high in the wake of this season’s shocking success.

    Overall, the Knicks will have trouble repeating last year’s combination of health and outlier shooting if they just run it back … but doing something significantly different than running it back isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds.
    https://theathletic.com/2630901/2021...the-hard-part/

    3 Knicks offseason questions, including whether or not to extend Julius Randle

    The Knicks’ regular season was a resounding success. But their postseason ended in disappointment Wednesday when they lost Game 5 at home to the Hawks.

    The club heads into the offseason with several big decisions to make.

    Here’s a look at a few of them...

    JULIUS RANDLE EXTENSION?

    Julius Randle’s contract for 2021-22 isn’t fully guaranteed. The Knicks can offer him an extension of up to four years and $106 million this summer. The club can also keep Randle under his current contract. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2021-22 season. In 2022, Randle could re-sign with the Knicks for as much as a five-year deal worth more than $200 million.

    It will be interesting to see how the Knicks approach Randle’s next contract.

    The 26-year-old was the driving force behind the Knicks’ success in 2020-21.

    He became the sixth player in NBA history – and the first Knick -- to average at least 24.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists in a season. The others? Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Nikola Jokić (who also did it this season), Oscar Robertson, and Russell Westbrook.

    He earned an All-Star nod and the NBA’s Most Improved Player award.

    Randle struggled in the playoffs, though. That’s probably going to factor in to the Knicks approach this offseason with him. But it’s unlikely to change their general outlook on Randle: As late as the last month of the regular season, New York was committed to keeping him after his current contract expires.

    WHAT ABOUT POINT GUARD?

    The Knicks could have roughly $60 million in cap space this offseason. It’s safe to assume that they’ll be exploring their options in the point guard market. New York checked in with New Orleans prior to the 2021 trade deadline regarding a potential Lonzo Ball trade. Nothing materialized then, but one source familiar with the Knicks-Pelicans talks expected New York to re-engage on Ball in the offseason.

    In the final weeks of the regular season, there was still no consensus among Knicks decision-makers about Ball, sources said.

    Other potential options include Dennis Schroder, Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, Devonte Graham, or Kendrick Nunn.


    SNY previously reported that Schroder and Lowry have been on New York’s radar.

    WHO WILL BE RE-SIGNED?

    The Knicks’ pending free agents include Derrick Rose, Nerlens Noel, Reggie Bullock, Alec Burks, Taj Gibson, Elfrid Payton, and Frank Ntilikina.

    You can bet your rent check or mortgage payment that the Knicks will have strong interest in bringing Rose back. Gibson as well. Noel was one of the driving forces behind New York’s defense in the regular season. He will probably have suitors in the offseason.

    The Knicks’ approach with Noel in the offseason will be interesting.

    Noel filled in admirably for the injured Mitchell Robinson during the regular season.

    The Knicks can offer Robinson an extension this offseason. But New York may elect to exercise the team option on Robinson’s contract for 2021-22. This would allow Robinson to hit free agency in 2022.

    Their approach with Robinson may factor into how they navigate Noel’s free agency.

    Lastly, Tom Thibodeau didn’t say it directly, but he seemed to be hinting that the Knicks need to add shooting this offseason. Evan Fournier is a name to keep an eye on.

    The Knicks spoke to Orlando at the trade deadline about a potential trade for Fournier, who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
    https://www.sny.tv/articles/3-knicks...-julius-randle

  2. #2
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    good reads and ultimately it's everything we've talked about here. Tons of scenarios and none are 100% ideal but we're getting there.

  3. #3
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    Here's how ESPN's Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz have New York selecting in July:

    No. 19 (via DAL): James Bouknight | SG | Connecticut

    No. 21 (own): Ziaire Williams | SG/SF | Stanford

    No. 32 (via DET): Day'Ron Sharpe | C | North Carolina

    No. 58 (via PHI): Santi Aldama | PF | Loyola Maryland
    Who are these knuckleheads?! The Knicks are going to draft a power forward with Julius Randle and Obi Toppin on the team? Another Center? This team has the same needs: Point Guard and shooting guard. They need shooters badly.

  4. #4
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    If KL and Ball don't come I would take Kemba and multiple picks from boston. Kemba can atleast give 18min better PG play then elf right?

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Detfink View Post
    Who are these knuckleheads?! The Knicks are going to draft a power forward with Julius Randle and Obi Toppin on the team? Another Center? This team has the same needs: Point Guard and shooting guard. They need shooters badly.
    Scott Perry is the gm and Knicks don't like PGs.

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Detfink View Post
    Who are these knuckleheads?! The Knicks are going to draft a power forward with Julius Randle and Obi Toppin on the team? Another Center? This team has the same needs: Point Guard and shooting guard. They need shooters badly.
    Both of their projected first round picks are guards. They need a backup C. Who cares about pick 58?

    Also the draft isn’t until August. I’m pretty sure the second round mocks are just based on ranking and not team need.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheetos185 View Post
    Scott Perry is the gm and Knicks don't like PGs.

    Sent from my HD1905 using Tapatalk
    I see that.

    James Bouknight is projected to go in the top 10. These ESPN "experts" have him falling to #19...ridiculous.

    Ziaire Williams is not projected to go till the end of the draft, #27. He averages 10ppg. He's a project.

    Why wouldn't the Knicks draft Tre Mann who is more suited to the pro level?

    Quote Originally Posted by cheetos185 View Post
    If KL and Ball don't come I would take Kemba and multiple picks from boston. Kemba can atleast give 18min better PG play then elf right?

    Sent from my HD1905 using Tapatalk
    I like this idea. Kemba has two seasons left. Boston is ready to blow it all up.
    Last edited by Dr. Detfink; 06-08-2021 at 04:59 PM.

  8. #8
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    What's next for Knicks? I don't think anyone knows, including the front office. Meaning, the plan is likely to be extremely fluid and dependent on who might become available. Just keep building with smart pieces. Find a PG and add a couple of wings like Barton and Oubre.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheetos185 View Post
    Scott Perry is the gm and Knicks don't like PGs.

    Sent from my HD1905 using Tapatalk
    Can we consider Vildoza a first rounder ? Talent wise I wonder where he would be in the draft this draft with his abality

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by flimflamman View Post
    Can we consider Vildoza a first rounder ? Talent wise I wonder where he would be in the draft this draft with his ability
    That's a great question ff. I wonder if any of the NYK writers can get this answered?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by flimflamman View Post
    Can we consider Vildoza a first rounder ? Talent wise I wonder where he would be in the draft this draft with his abality
    We need to see him play, but given his past record in the Spanish league I would say yes.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by flimflamman View Post
    Can we consider Vildoza a first rounder ? Talent wise I wonder where he would be in the draft this draft with his abality
    I guess you could call him high second round pick at the least.

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Detfink View Post
    I see that.

    James Bouknight is projected to go in the top 10. These ESPN "experts" have him falling to #19...ridiculous.

    Ziaire Williams is not projected to go till the end of the draft, #27. He averages 10ppg. He's a project.

    Why wouldn't the Knicks draft Tre Mann who is more suited to the pro level?



    I like this idea. Kemba has two seasons left. Boston is ready to blow it all up.
    Knicks are better of collecting as many picks possible and draft well until a star becomes available that's best they can do.

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    No panic moves! Do not fall to the pressure of the media to trade for a star! It's just year two of this regime! You don't go from the laughing stock of the league to NBA title contenders in two years! Keep building! We have the cap and draft picks!

    Trading 3 future first rounders plus guys like RJ for a 30 plus year old name is not going to make us better.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by callmeDro View Post
    We need to see him play, but given his past record in the Spanish league I would say yes.
    He played a great playoff in Spain was MVP in their finals. That tournament has to compare favorably to the NCAA tournament. Perhaps he may be ranked below Suggs and Cunningham as far as best pg in this draft. Let's be really optimistic until proven otherwise.

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