The New York Knicks spent the first night of free agency making a minor splash while retaining some of the core pieces that helped the franchise break its eight-year playoff drought.
Per reports, the Knicks are bringing back Derrick Rose ($43 million), Nerlens Noel ($32 million), and Alec Burks ($30 million) on three-year deals while inking veteran swingman Evan Fournier to a four-year, $78 million pact.
Both Rose and Noel were integral parts in keeping the Knicks on track toward the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference during the 2020-21 season. The veteran Rose ended a personal eight-year playoff drought of his own while stabilizing New York’s backcourt and mentoring rookie Immanuel Quickley in his impressive debut campaign.
Noel came in to provide a respectable platoon alongside Taj Gibson after Mitchell Robinson went down with a season-ending injury, averaging a career-best 2.2 blocks per game.
Burks appeared in just 49 games but shot 41.5% from three-point range to provide one semi-dangerous threat from deep for a team that lacked a consistent scorer from beyond the arc.
The hope is that Fournier will provide more of a deep threat for the Knicks. A 28-year-old who averaged 17 points per game over the last four seasons with the Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics shot a career-best 41.3% from three-point range last year.
In 16 games with the Celtics after he was traded from Orlando, Fournier shot 46.3% from deep.
The Frenchman is currently competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where he dropped 28 points earlier in the tournament in an upset victory over the United States before posting 21 points on Tuesday in a 84-75 triumph over Italy.
It remains to be seen what his signing does to the Knicks’ interest in four-time All-Star swingman DeMar DeRozan, whom Ian Begley of SNY reported on Monday had interest in signing with New York.
While Rose has been retained, the Knicks are still expected to address their need for a true starting point guard. Quickley and Rose both proved invaluable off the bench, but a bonafide No. 1 floor general will only help the Knicks’ chances of taking the next step toward contending in the Eastern Conference.
Among current free agents that the Knicks could spend some of their abundance of cap space on includes Patty Mills, Reggie Jackson, and Dennis Schroder while the trade market could see the re-sparking of rumors that had linked Cleveland Cavaliers youngster Collin Sexton to New York.
Reports emerged last month that the Knicks were the most aggressive suitor for Sexton, though talks obviously had died down.