Knicks Rumors: NY Focusing on Surrounding RJ Barrett with Complementary Players

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 29, 2020

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 11: RJ Barrett #9 of the New York Knicks shoots the ball against the Atlanta Hawks on March 11, 2020 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.  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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The New York Knicks have a potential star to build around in RJ Barrett, who was the third overall pick in the 2019 draft. 

But the team is now determined to fill out the roster around him this offseason, per SNY's Ian Begley. That means bringing in shooters who can space the floor and help improve the team's fourth-worst shooting percentage this year.

Begley mentioned a lead guard as one option but also noted that big men need to have some range as well for new president Leon Rose's team:

"Prior to Leon Rose taking over, other areas of need identified by New York's front office/scouts included a forward who can stretch the floor.

"One person in touch with members of the organization at the time said part of the thinking for the club's offseason was centered around finding players who complement rookie RJ Barrett."

That's apparently still on the agenda, per Begley: "An SNY source said finding a forward who can knock down a shot—in the draft or free agency—is one item on the Knicks' list.

The Knicks held a 21-45 record when the NBA season was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barrett chipped in 14.3 points on 40.2 percent shooting and 5.0 rebounds in 56 games (55 starts). He had an up-and-down year that included a 27-point performance in an upset win over the Houston Rockets and a five-game stretch in December when he shot 25.0 percent from the field, including an 0-of-9 night.

But Barrett showed that he's at worth building around as a core piece of the franchise. The 19-year-old notably hit a groove before the season was suspended, posting 18.3 points on 48.2 percent shooting in his last eight contests.

However, the Knicks had mismatched personnel, with too many point guards and power forwards and not enough outside shooters who could help spread the floor for the entire offense. That led to a stagnant scoring attack which averaged the second-fewest points per game in the league.

As for how the Knicks can improve there, Begley mentioned a few options, including a pair of old friends:

"If the Knicks decide to look for a forward via free agency who can shoot, Danilo Gallinari, Carmelo Anthony and Christian Wood are potential options.

"Some members of the Knicks front office were enamored with Wood over the course of the season.

"Regarding Anthony, prior to free agency last summer, the Knicks strongly considered signing the ex-Knick if they were able to land two other stars. They missed out on the stars in free agency, which took Anthony out of their plans. Rose, the current team president, was Anthony's agent. The two remain close. Worth pointing out: the Knicks being open to looking for a big who can shoot doesn't necessarily reflect a desire to move on from Randle."

The Knicks drafted Gallinari in 2008 before trading him to the Denver Nuggets in a blockbuster deal that brought back Anthony, who played in New York for six seasons.

As Begley noted, Rose has the draft capital (two first-rounders, one second-rounder) and salary cap space (potentially $60 million) to get to work in his first offseason as Knicks president.

High on the agenda appears to be fitting pieces around Barrett as the Knicks look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013.