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Knicks Rumors: Some NBA Free Agents Scared of Responsibility to 'Save' NY

Erin WalshDecember 16, 2022

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - DECEMBER 14: Jalen Brunson #11 of the New York Knicks dribbles up the court against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at United Center on December 14, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The New York Knicks have made the playoffs just once since the 2012-13 campaign when they reached the Eastern Conference semifinals, and they've been stuck in mediocrity since despite immense pressure to turn things around.

That type of pressure appears to be deterring some free agents from wanting to sign with the Knicks.

An agent told Brian Wacker of the New York Post:

"It's almost become a thing around the league; is there a sense of urgency or is it just like every other year? Guys like [playing] there, but at least when it comes to free agents, there's a lot of, is someone gonna come save the Knicks? That scares some guys off."

The Knicks are desperate to make a deep playoff run, which is something they haven't done since they reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2000. They reached the NBA Finals in 1999 but fell to the San Antonio Spurs and haven't won a title since 1973.

While some free agents are reportedly hesitant to sign with the Knicks, the team did manage to land point guard Jalen Brunson in free agency ahead of the 2022-23 campaign. Of course, Brunson's father is an assistant on Tom Thibodeau's staff, but the former Dallas Maverick has spoken openly about not feeling overwhelmed.

"For one, it's not really pressure to me," Brunson told reporters in September of playing in New York. "I'm just going out there and playing basketball the way I've played for a long time. And two, I'm just going to be myself. I'm ready to go. Whatever it takes."

Additionally, if free agents are going to sign in New York, the Knicks are going to explore every available option on the trade market. In fact, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported Wednesday that the Knicks "have been described by league personnel as one of the more active teams in early trade conversations" this year.

As the franchise searches for upgrades to a roster that has underperformed this season, the Knicks have reportedly made Evan Fournier, Derrick Rose, Cam Reddish and Immanuel Quickley available.

It's unclear what type of return the team could get with those players. However, it has a surplus of draft capital over the next few drafts with nine total first-round picks in the next five drafts, which it could use to land top-tier talent.

If the Knicks are going to part with any of those picks, it must be for a player they believe can help change the trajectory of the franchise, otherwise it would be best to hold onto those picks to land some of the top players in the next several drafts and build for the future.

New York enters Friday's game against the Chicago Bulls sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 15-13 record. Things are trending upward for Thibodeau's squad, which has won five straight games.