The heavy lifting seems to be over. It seems offseason for the Knicks more or less, yet Galen Bronson autographs and Isaiah Hartenstein—and re-signed Mitchell Robinson—leaving them with an average room exception of $5.2.
Zach Brazeler of The Post offers five thoughts on President Leon Rose’s work so far:
Gradual progress has been made
Knicks are better, but how much better? They have fulfilled their most pressing needs in Point Ranger (Bronson), Added some variety in the foreground (Harttenstein)But this will not lead them into a serious dispute. If all goes well – if Bronson and franchise cornerstone RJ Barrett take steps forward as stars, if Julius Randle rediscovers his form in 2020-21, if Hartenstein explodes with more chances, if the role behind them stands out – this is still a team that ain’t Among the elite of the Eastern Conference. The Celtics, Heat, 76ers and loaded Bucks remain the teams to beat in the East. The Hawks, after trading Dejounte Murray, and the high-end Cavaliers are both better on paper. And the The Lottery Kevin Durant Someone else can jump into the mix of higher levels, like Raptors. Make no mistake, the Knicks should be more competitive. Place in the playing tour is very realistic. But anything beyond the Seven Classifiers would be amazing for this list as it is currently composed.
After two years of being one of the best players in the NBA, Randle will be required to make major adjustments. He will play with the ball less, which may limit his production. A playmaker like Bronson could free Randle, but that would also mean a new way to play for the bruised striker, who is used to being creative, albeit with a high turnover. There’s also the issue of spacing, with Brunson, Randle and Barrett edging under the 3-point streak, and Mitchell Robinson’s no-shooting center blocking the paint as well.
The Knicks traded their top 3-point shooter with a 3-point percentage in Alec Burks to create enough salary room to land on Brunson, this is the team that ranked 13th in the league with 3-point shooting percentage a year ago. Bronson, a 37.3 percent shooter who can create an open look for his teammates, is clearly helping. But the Knicks will need more junior players Quentin Grimes and Cam Reddish, provided Reddish stays with the team, and they should get more opportunities to perform. Emmanuel Quikley, who is likely to play mostly off the ball next year, has seen his shot percentage drop from 38.9 percent to 34.6 percent. So getting better from it isn’t a crazy request. It might be a necessity for the Knicks.
Bronson was the right decision
I’ve noticed a lot of criticism of the move, that the Knicks are overpaying to get a good player – but not a great player. That Bronson, who agreed to a four-year, $104 million deal Thursday night, doesn’t make them a title contender. He’s not a top-five goalkeeper in the league. I am not here to disagree with any of these ideas. But what he does is make this team better. He probably set them up in the play cycle. There’s an idea that unless the Knicks are adding a star, what’s the point? Well, unless you’ve been in a coma for years, you understand that the NBA is run by stars. They decide where they play, regardless of the state of their contract. I think Barrett could be No. 2 in the title contender and Bronson could be No. 3. The way to get No. 1 is by making yourself more attractive, by creating a winning culture, and you can do that by adding in the good guys. This is Galen Bronson. Makes Knicks better. The post-season period, in which he averaged 21.6 points over 18 games, may have been a sign of a young player ready to really make an appearance. Either way, as ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy told me, “He’s an important player in the NBAKnicks need as many of these guys as possible.
I left two moves
The Knicks could use another wing after dealing with Birx and Barrett is now eligible for Max’s junior contract. This is the activity I could see happening to finish off the season. The players in Barrett’s class – Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and Darius Garland – have reportedly agreed to the rookie Max extensions. The ever-growing Barrett could receive a deal of up to $185 million over five years. As for the winger’s position, at the moment, Knicks own Barrett, Reddish, and more. An old warrior is needed. Injured striker TJ Warren, one of the best unsigned players in the free agent market who made just four appearances last year for the Pacers due to a stress fracture in his left foot, may be a worthwhile gamble.