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New York Knicks Point Guard Options Come Into Sharp Focus this Offseason

With the New York Knicks entering a new direction under Leon Rose as president of basketball operations, the Knicks are ready to embrace a new beginning for their long-suffering fan base. Tom Thibodeau’s hiring as head coach is a positive first step due to his experience building winning cultures.

Priority number one for Leon Rose and Tom Thibodeau is to find their next point guard.

Assessing Point Guard Options for the New York Knicks

Past Failings

Previous failed attempts include Phil Jackson’s selection of Frank Ntilikina 8th overall.

Many don’t consider Ntilikina a starting-caliber player due to a limited offensive game. His wingspan and active defense give him some upside, but not enough in the modern NBA. Former president Steve Mills attempted answer was to trade Kristaps Porzingis for Dennis Smith Jr. as the centerpiece. Smith Jr has been severely underwhelmed since arriving, he has struggled for confidence, and his value has declined rapidly.

Rose, since taking charge, was interested in acquiring Chris Paul after his fantastic year leading a young Oklahoma City Thunder roster to the playoffs. However, Paul’s interest in going to a more talented roster at this late stage of his career saw Paul get traded to the Phoenix Suns. This is seen as a perfect situation for him to form an exciting backcourt with offensive superstar Devin Booker.

Option 1: Trade for Russell Westbrook

New York would potentially hold some leverage in these negotiations, as few teams can absorb his salary or provide cap relief for the Houston Rockets. Russell Westbrook’s personality would suit the city, and he would add a star factor not seen at Madison Square Garden (apart from when stars from other teams light it up) since Carmelo Anthony was forced out by the Phil Jackson regime.

However, there are significant downsides to consider, such as his knee issues and contract. For instance, he is due $44 million next year and $47 million as a player option in 2022. That is a lot to invest in a rebuilding team. Plus, in a shooting league, his inability to shoot from the range is an issue. It becomes even worse when considering the dearth of perimeter shooting on the Knicks roster.

However, he still is a very exciting player. He put up an all-star stat line of 27.2 points, 7 assists, and 7.9 rebounds per game, mostly playing off the ball to James Harden. This would likely improve if he was on a team where he was the primary ball-handler again.

At some point, the Knicks need to get out of this malaise, being in a perpetual state of rebuild. They lack talent in almost every area of the roster. This is perhaps the kind of jolt the team needs. As last year’s offseason proved, cap space is only useful if you have players interested in signing.

Option 2: Fred VanVleet

If the Knicks go the free-agent route, by far, the best available option is Fred VanVleet. While many believe the most likely scenario for VanVleet would be returning to the Toronto Raptors where he won a title, he’s also made it very clear that he wishes to get paid this free agency. VanVleet is an exciting proposition. He’s a terrific all-around guard, still has upside, and appears to be getting better each year. This option appears to make the most sense for the New York Knicks. However, it’s difficult to envisage a scenario where he departs for New York at this stage of their rebuild. Nonetheless, this would be a nice signing if they landed him.

Option 3: Look to the Draft

Many scouts have said this is a draft where the beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. For instance, there isn’t a consensus number one, but there are several exciting prospects throughout. In terms of possible point guard options, the most likely NBA ready name is LaMelo Ball, who is projected to go first to the Minnesota Timberwolves in recent mock drafts. After him, the next name at point guard is Tyrese Haliburton due to his high basketball IQ.

With the New York Knicks selecting 8th, they may look to bolster other positions. For instance, they have been credited with an interest in Isaac Okoro, Obi Toppin, or “three-and-d” guard Devin Vassell. One other possible option to consider is speedster Kira Lewis; he recently worked out for the Knicks and has risen in some team’s draft boards. He could be considered the next De’Aaron Fox due to his speed if his potential is harvested by whoever drafts him.

Option 4: New York Knicks Hold Tight, Again

They could perhaps prefer to wait and sign a veteran free agent like Jeff Teague, to add a professional presence to the backcourt while looking toward next year for their answer.

Whichever road they choose to go down, these next few days and weeks will be very interesting for the Knicks.

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