Knicks interested in Donte DiVincenzo: How would he fit in New York?

Donte DiVincenzo could be a Knicks free agent target
Donte DiVincenzo dribbles up the ball for Golden State in 2022-23 (wikimedia commons)

One of the most oft-discussed rumors in NBA free agency is that the Knicks will make a push to sign Donte DiVincenzo and team him up with his former Villanova teammates Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart.

Earlier this week, Jake Fischer wrote for Yahoo! Sports: “There have already been several names linked to the Wolves…and they’re all playmaking, bigger combo guards such as Bruce Brown and Donte DiVincenzo. Both players are expected to have several options in that contract range, where there’s been growing noise among league personnel about DiVincenzo joining former Villanova teammates Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart in New York.”

Brunson, Hart, and DiVincenzo were all teammates on Villanova’s 2015-16 championship team, and then Brunson and DiVincenzo were teammates again in 2018 when Villanova won again. In that 2018 season, DiVincenzo was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four after setting a record for the most points scored by a Final Four reserve. He scored 18 first-half points in the finals against Michigan and finished with a career-high 31. 

He’s a proven winner at all levels and is one of the more attractive names on the list of potential free agents.

Donte DiVincenzo Jalen Brunson Knicks
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Chris Szagola/AP/Shutterstock (9452614ai) Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo. Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo, left, celebrates with Jalen Brunson, right, after the second half of an NCAA basketball game against Georgetown, in Philadelphia. Villanova won 97-73 Georgetown Villanova Basketball, Philadelphia, USA – 03 Mar 2018

The key question is, how does he fit with this current Knicks team?

The most glaring hole DiVincenzo fills for this New York team is that he has the ability to defend multiple positions. Even at 6’4″ he competes against bigger wings on the perimeter and, much like Hart, is a really good rebounder for a guard. That defensive versatility and rebounding will be huge for New York. 

Additionally, DiVincenzo shot 39.7% from beyond the arc this year, which would give the Knicks the floor spacing they desperately need. Yet, he can also handle the ball some and play in the pick-and-roll, so he would give head coach Tom Thibodeau lots of lineup versatility (not that Thibodeau has ever really made use of that).

After averaging 9.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.3 steals in 26.3 minutes per game, DiVincenzo posted a positive 2.9 net rating, which just showcases exactly how valuable his diverse skill set makes him. He can make an impact on the game even if he doesn’t score a lot of points, which is incredibly valuable for a bench player. 

Finally, many Knicks fans are concerned about where the minutes for DiVincenzo will come from. 

It’s important when considering this to first note that Thibodeau didn’t start using a strict nine-man rotation until December 4th when it seemed like his future in New York was close to over. Prior to that time, Thibodeau used larger rotations, so there is a chance that he could still go back to a 10-man rotation.

That might not be a bad thing for the Knicks because it would allow Thibodeau, if he wanted, to take some minutes away from his starters.

This season, Brunson, Julius Randle, and RJ Barrett all averaged over 34 minutes per game. In Hart’s 25 games in New York, he played 30 minutes per game. There is an opportunity to take a few minutes from each player, and also Quentin Grimes, who averaged 30 minutes per game, and still have a 10-man rotation that spreads minutes around effectively. 

That is even more possible considering the Knicks seem hesitant to let Obi Toppin play more than 15 minutes per game. While that upsets Knicks fans, it’s important to see the reality that the organization clearly does not view the former 8th overall pick as a full-time player.

It’s also entirely possible that Toppin or other players are moved in a trade, which would free up minutes for DiVincenzo. 

On The Putback with Ian Begley, SNY’S NBA Insider and Knick Film School’s Jonathan Macri discussed the Knicks’ interest in Donte DiVincenzo and whom they could potentially move if they were to sign him.

Macri mentioned that the Knicks could “swap out an RJ Barrett and some of these protected picks for a marginal upgrade because you have a way to replace that spot…or maybe an RJ with a Grimes or a [Immanuel] Quickley” for a return “that’s significant.”

While current rumors have Barrett linked in talks with Paul George, there’s also the possibility for Barrett and more to be used in a deal for Raptors wing OG Anunoby, so there are plenty of paths forward for New York. 

Many fans are hesitant to move either Grimes or Quickley, but the reality is that both players are up for extensions within the next two years, and it could be unlikely that the Knicks sign both to long-term deals. It might make sense for the Knicks to use one of those players now to acquire a proven star and then bring in a cheaper option, like DiVincenzo, to fill the reserve guard spot.

If the Knicks were to use Barrett, Grimes, and picks to acquire OG Anunoby and then sign DiVincenzo that would give them a lineup of: Brunson, Quickley, Anunoby, Randle, and Mitchell Robinson with Hart, DiVincenzo, Toppin, and Hartenstein off of the bench. That’s a pretty versatile and talented team. 

At the end of the day, if the Knicks are able to add a player who has the exact skill set that the team needs and fits the timeline of the core of the team, then they shouldn’t hesitate to do it. There are plenty of avenues the Knicks have available for them to build a contender and they can sort out which one to take once they have DiVincenzo in the fold. 

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Donte DiVincenzo could be a Knicks free agent target
Donte DiVincenzo while playing for the Golden State warriors (wikimedia commons)