The Knicks will finally be able to hit the reset button this summer. With a likely top-three draft pick and a ton of cap space, they’ll not only have a premier young talent coming in to join a (theoretically) healthy Carmelo Anthony next season, but also plenty of space to add more pieces.
It’s highly unlikely that Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge, the two biggest stars on the market, leave their current, favorable situations to join the Knicks, but there are plenty of other options that might actually make more sense, in addition to being more realistic.
The Knicks will make their pass at Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge, and likely at Rajon Rondo and/or Goran Dragic, too, but expect them to be aggressive in pursuing as many young free agents as possible. Jackson does not want to build a team around players in their early 30s. That means Reggie Jackson, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight will factor prominently on the Knicks’ radar as the team looks to avoid its long-standing habit of indulging in short-term fixes that set the franchise back in the long term.
Some of these players will be easier to pry away from their current teams than the likes of Gasol and Aldridge — especially Monroe, who’s unrestricted and went through an ugly, highly publicized negotiation with the Pistons last summer. Going after a player like Monroe or Knight, coming off their rookie contract, will also provide a middle ground in the age of the team’s core between the 19-year-old they’re going to draft and the 30-year-old Anthony.
It’s going to take time for the Knicks to rebuild properly, and who knows whether they’ll actually get there. But going after younger, middle-tier stars and holding onto their draft picks is going to be a better strategy going forward than the “clear out cap space and hope we can lure LeBron James or Kevin Durant with New York’s appeal as a media market” roster-construction method that’s been in place for a while.