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Grading the Knicks’ 2024 NBA offseason so far

July 8th, 2024

While the regular season still months away, the majority of this offseason’s transactions appear to be complete.

The Knicks were an extremely active participant.

Coming off a season where they made a shocking midseason trade and suffered a second-round Game 7 loss, New York now has major championship aspirations.

What went right, what went wrong, and how can we fairly grade what we know of this pivotal Knicks offseason so far?

The Good

Trading for Mikal Bridges was arguably the single most surprising move of Leon Rose’s tenure and the league’s offseason. New York emptied the pick pile it assembled for years in anticipation of a star trade for a zero-time All-Star who is a superstar fit.

A down, half-hearted year leading a hapless Brooklyn team has shaken some of Bridges’ hype, but every other bullet point on his resume gives New York fans reason to celebrate.

Bridges was months removed from being a lead contributor to Team USA in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, a season from averaging 26.1 points on 50.3 percent shooting from two and 37.6 percent from three over 27 games, two from making an All-Defensive Second Team and finishing second in Defensive Player of the Year voting.

He always plays, is among the top percentile in one of the most valued archetypes in the game, and will only add to the culture and fit of the roster. Those still questioning why the Knicks had to give up so much for a highly-sought talent playing for a cross-river rival they haven’t traded with in a half century are missing the bigger picture.

They waited for a star to request out for years, missing Donovan Mitchell, but got one last shot at Bridges before the new CBA restrictions bear down on teams. They were able to acquire him while maintaining the rest of their core and still keeping some draft equity, setting themselves up to truly compete in 2024-25 and beyond.

Helping secure that was re-signing OG Anunoby, the star 3-and-D wing they traded for this past December. He received competitive offers across the league, but opted to remain in New York for the long-term.

While the Knicks maintained their strong top line, they also replenished their depth and assets via the draft. Going in with three picks, New York left draft night with two additional future second-round picks and four intriguing prospects.

The Knicks drafted the potential-packed Pacome Dadiet, a day-one rotation spot contender in Tyler Kolek, this draft’s Josh Hart comp in Kevin McCullar Jr. and center Ariel Hukporti. This front office can shown it can find major sleepers in the draft, and will look to continue that streak with this latest class.

Grading the Knicks’ 2024 NBA offseason so far

Despite this being an “all-in” offseason from the Knicks, they’ve still managed to keep some decent flexibility going into a more binding transaction market. They’re still well enough below the second apron to add to this roster where needed, have a plethora of remaining draft picks and boast a number of value and easily-movable contracts.

The Bad

Losing Isaiah Hartenstein was nothing short of a gut punch.

He anchored the defense and in many ways the offense throughout last season, earning himself a nearly $30 million annual payday the Knicks were unable to come close to matching due to cap rules.

Hartenstein is a big hole to fill, and it’s clear the Knicks haven’t yet addressed how they’re going to. Mitchell Robinson is totally deserving and fits in when it comes to the starting center spot, but his primary backup would currently be Jericho Sims, who is followed by the rookie Hukporti.

The Knicks could be sniffing around for trades before settling on re-signing Precious Achiuwa and going from there, but as of right now, this big-man rotation won’t cut it.

That said, losing Hartenstein wasn’t the fault of the front office.

After taking a shot at a vagabond Hartenstein with a team-friendly two-year deal, he impressed with a solid bench season, then took off in the wake of Robinson’s injury this year. The Knicks never had a chance to extend his contract, couldn’t afford to trade him during the season, and couldn’t offer him close to the amount of money he received.

This is probably true of the other downside of the offseason: the trading price for Bridges. It is, in a vacuum, an overpay.

Factor in any context at all and the trade becomes a clear win for the Knicks (not at the Nets‘ expense), but they will be feeling its impact for years. They wouldn’t be able to tank until 2030 and won’t have any future unprotected first-round picks to trade for a couple of seasons.

Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges walks off the court after a loss against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo CenterBrooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges walks off the court after a loss against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center

All those departing picks were a price the Knicks likely had to pay if they wanted to secure Bridges or any star this summer. But they also represent full conviction in this roster as assembled. It’s either going to win or have to be retooled or rebuilt in an unfriendly environment to do so.

Those who don’t believe in Jalen Brunson’s superstardom, Julius Randle’s postseason potential, the NovaKnicks and the power of friendship, or the team’s ability to stay healthy won’t be happy with this offseason. And if it turns out they’re right, the Knicks will have to shift direction with less flexibility than ever, so fans better get used to this team.

The Grade: B+

This summer was the culmination of years of mismanagement and one team’s difficult but successful effort to reverse them. Any casual observer can nitpick the finer details, the path to get here and the final result, but the Knicks are operating more competently than at any point in this millennium — and this offseason was no different.

In a league that’s seen a new champion in seven straight seasons, it’s silly to try and discount a particular rebuilding blueprint or team construction. The Knicks went 14-2 in January, were one win short of the conference finals, and just upgraded their roster without impacting their chemistry.

They’re for real.

The price to get here was steep, but the Knicks showed they were willing to pay it, as any contender has to at some point. The ramifications if they’re wrong shouldn’t be anybody’s concern right now, and history has shown clever teams can maneuver their way out from any all-in moves.

The Knicks are back.

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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