With Immanuel Quickley coming off a breakout season in which he was the runner-up for Sixth Man of the Year, it seemed like a given that the Knicks would be looking to extend the guard for the long term before he becomes a restricted free agent at the end of next season.
However, that might not be the case.
Earlier this week, Heavy.com reported that an Eastern Conference General Manager suggested the Knicks were planning to make a lowball offer to the former Kentucky Wildcat.
“They will try to lowball [Quickley] in an extension,” the general manager told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney. “You know, four years and $50 million, hope he goes for it.”
The executive was quick to point out that this wasn’t simply something the Knicks were doing as a cost-conscious measure but something that all teams do.
“Nothing against the Knicks in saying that,” he continued, “just that is what the protocol is. Every team does it.”
Perhaps the Knicks would be hoping that Quickley would be open to taking less than he would make on the open market in order to stay with the young corps in New York and try to win a championship. However, it’s likely that the team would be open to paying more if the lowball offer was unsuccessful, which it appears likely to be.
Hoopshype’s Michael Scotto spoke to Knicks beat reporters Ian Begley of SNY and Stefan Bondy of New York Daily News on an episode of his podcast in May and reported that the numbers Quickley would command as a free agent would be much larger than $50 million over four years.
“In talking with people around the league, this is what I’ve gathered as far as looking at his value,” he said. “At worst, his floor would be four years, $80 million. Then, you’re getting into a conversation of, to make sense for Quickley, is it in the four-year, $100 range?”
If that is indeed the cost for Quickley, it could pose a problem for the Knicks, who are set to pay $78.46 million next year to just Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and Jalen Brunson. Another $20 million would put them at around $100 million dollars for just four players, which would make it much harder to build a long-term contender around four contracts like that.
The Knicks would clearly prefer to pay Quickley something closer to what they’re paying Mitchell Robinson, who is currently the fourth-highest-paid player on the team after he signed a four-year, $60 million deal before this season.
The good news for New York is that they don’t have to make a decision on Quickley right now. He is already under contract for next season and the team can make him a restricted free agent after the year, which would give them the ability to match any offer that another team makes to him.
This gives the Knicks another year to see if Quickley’s improvement is sustainable, but it also allows other teams around the league to dictate his value and could price the Knicks out if he has yet another good year.
It’s certainly a conundrum for Leon Rose and whoever replaces Scott Perry as the general manager for the team.
They clearly want to keep Quickley, who started 21 games this year and posted 22.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists while shooting 47% from the field and 40% on 3-pointers in those starts. However, the team is also sniffing around adding another big star to their roster, and paying Quickley $20 million per year would make that impossible if they also keep all of Randle, Brunson, and Barrett.
While Quickley was on the trade block before, it appears that offering him to get a star back is unlikely.
“He is as close to untouchable as anyone on the roster at this point,” the same Eastern Conference GM told Heavy.com
So the Knicks now have to decide how they want to build their roster for the future, and the decision regarding Immanuel Quickley’s next contract is at the center of it. If they believe in the young corps that they have, they’ll lock up Josh Hart and Quickley and then figure out how to add rotation pieces or maybe move Randle or Robinson to free up finances.
However, if the Knicks want to keep their options for adding an outside star open, they may find that dragging their feet causes them to lose Immanuel Quickley to a starting lineup somewhere else. Is that a risk they’re willing to take?