Projecting Landing Spots for Knicks' Top Free Agents

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 14, 2022

Projecting Landing Spots for Knicks' Top Free Agents

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Last season was a dream for the New York Knicks that didn't end until their first trip to the NBA playoffs since 2013.

    This campaign was more of a nightmare, leaving New York four games below .500 and sitting just 11th in the Eastern Conference standings.

    It's possible the Knicks encountered enough turbulence to spark an active offseason that changes a good chunk of the roster. If that happens, though, it won't be in free agency, as New York only has two players ticketed for the open market.

    We're breaking out the crystal ball to see where those players—and one more candidate for offseason change—might wind up.

Ryan Arcidiacono

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Knicks signed Ryan Arcidiacono to a 10-day deal in January and wound up signing him for the entire season in February. Yet he only suited up 10 times and scattered just 76 minutes across those outings.

    Given New York's myriad issues at point guard, the fact that Arcidiacono couldn't carve a bigger role for himself might be telling. So, too, is the fact that he hadn't locked down an NBA gig this season before the Knicks came calling.

    He has some skill—decent handle, shooting and decision-making—but he's a 6'3" guard with limited agility. That can be hard to hide in this league, and Arcidiacono never forced the Knicks to try.

    He has some NBA history (this was his fifth year in the bigs), and maybe he will have an NBA future. There's just no reason to think it will take place in New York.

    Prediction: Arcidiacono signs a training camp contract with the Washington Wizards.

Kemba Walker*

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    So let's get the technicality out of the way: Kemba Walker is not a free agent.

    When the Bronx native joined the 'Bockers last summer, he did so on a two-year, $17.9 million deal. His first season might have been rough enough to feel like an eternity, but he still has another season left on the pact.

    So why put Walker on this list? First, the Knicks only have two actual free agents, and one of them is an end-of-the-bench reserve, so it wouldn't have been much fun with only them, right? Second, the decision to shut down Walker in February sure felt like a greasing of the gears to eventually get him out of town. So even if he won't technically depart in free agency, he still seems more likely than not to play elsewhere next season.

    Walker's season was rough—though, to be fair, so was the Knicks' as a whole—but that shouldn't tank his value as either a trade target or perhaps a buyout candidate. Teams hurting for offense will notice he still tallied 16.4 points and 5.0 assists per 36 minutes while hitting 36.7 percent of his threes and 84.5 percent of his free throws, per Basketball Reference.

    Prediction: Walker is traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Mitchell Robinson

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    Mitchell Robinson is about to get expensive. The question is by how much and whether the Knicks will be on the other end of his contract.

    The arguments for keeping him are strong. Teams with losing records probably shouldn't discard ascending 24-year-olds, particularly ones who look like they will factor into the Defensive Player of the Year Award race at some point. Robinson put his old injury issues behind him, flew around the floor defensively and crushed every lob pass that made it to his zip code.

    Then again, New York may not want to pay for a center when it already has capable replacements like Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims on the roster. Not to mention that Robinson's lack of offensive range might be particularly problematic for the Knicks since their best two players—Julius Randle and RJ Barrett—do their best work inside the arc.

    If someone wants to splurge on Robinson, he's probably gone. But cap space is at a premium this summer, and the modern NBA typically doesn't shower interior bigs with cash. This should keep him within the Knicks' price range, but it will be close.