Knicks' Starting Lineup, Salary Cap After Derrick Rose, Evan Fournier Contracts in FA

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 3, 2021

Boston Celtics guard Evan Fournier (94) during the first half of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference Play-in game, Tuesday, May 18, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

So much for the New York Knicks' keeping their powder dry for 2022.

SNY's Ian Begley reported July 19 the Knicks would perhaps avoid giving out any big deals this summer with an eye toward next year's free-agent class.

Instead, New York agreed Monday to a four-year, $78 million deal with Evan Fournier, per ESPN's Adrian WojnarowskiWojnarowski also reported the Knicks agreed to a three-year, $43 million contract with Derrick Rose.

Throw in Nerlens Noel (three years, $32 million) and Alec Burks (three years, $30 million), per Wojnarowski, and the team's payroll for 2021-22 is almost maxed out.

Mike Vorkunov @MikeVorkunov

Knicks came into the night with roughly $54 million in cap space. They have now spent most of it. Evan Fournier, Derrick Rose, Nerlens Noel, and Alec Burks slated to earn roughly $54 million next season. Each signed a three-year deal (Fournier reportedly 3 plus a team option).

Here's how the Knicks might look on opening night in 2021-22:

Knicks' Projected Depth Chart

PG: Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley

SG: RJ Barrett, Alec Burks

SF: Evan Fournier, Kevin Knox II

PF: Julius Randle, Obi Toppin

C: Mitchell Robinson, Nerlens Noel

After the Knicks exceeded expectations last season, many wondered how they'd respond during an offseason in which they were flush with cash.

Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported Monday that Chris Paul is returning to the Phoenix Suns on a four-year deal, and The Athletic's Sam Amick reported Kawhi Leonard "is widely expected to re-sign with the Clippers on a new max deal." That's the two biggest free agents off the board.

Fournier has averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 37.9 percent from beyond the arc in his career. His Knicks deal isn't a far cry from the five-year, $85 million extension he signed with the Orlando Magic in 2016.

All things considered, New York didn't significantly overpay:

Tommy Beer @TommyBeer

Fournier is one of only eight players in the league to average more than 6.5 3PTA's while shooting over 40% from downtown over the past two seasons<br><br>The other seven are: Steph Curry, Duncan Robinson, Bogdan Bogdanović, Davis Bertans, Bojan Bogdanović Paul George and Kyrie Irving <a href="https://t.co/dP8JW4ekl4">https://t.co/dP8JW4ekl4</a>

But the fanbase might be underwhelmed. The Knicks are basically running back the same roster, albeit more expensively and with little financial flexibility next offseason.

kang🥇 @jaycaspiankang

Need to resolve the contradiction that I’m very happy for every player who gets a big contract bc it’s not my money and I want the players to be paid fairly but also being very amused at these Knicks contracts

Team president Leon Rose may be looking far beyond 2022.

According to Wojnarowksi, the last year of Fournier's pact is a team option, so he might be gone after three seasons.

At the moment, the Knicks don't have anybody under contract into the 2024-25 season. That assumes they don't pick up Fournier's option and doesn't account for potential extensions for Julius Randle and RJ Barrett.

Leon Rose might view the next couple of seasons as a way to bring credibility to the organization, thus steadily making it a player for marquee free agents.

Paul George, Damian Lillard, Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker and Jaylen Brown headline the class of 2024, while Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis and Brandon Ingram could hit the open market in 2025.

Based on recent history, Knicks fans know better than to expect top stars to sign on the dotted line. But the Brooklyn Nets showed how a franchise can become an attractive destination by delivering on-court results and having a clear plan.

Perhaps that can finally be true of the Knicks when 2024 and 2025 roll around.