As exciting as it’s been watching the New York Knicks this year, some fans and executives alike are more curious to see how their surprising season impacts the upcoming offseason.
Particularly in free agency, where they’re slated to be a huge competitor for top talent, now projected to be operating with north of $50-million in cap space.
But in a market deprived of superstars, where do they start?
Norman Powell to the Knicks?
In his latest reporting for Bleacher Report, Jake Fischer spoke to a number of people around the league regarding the New York Knicks’ unexpected rise, and how it alters their offseason plans.
One name that came up as a potential target is Norman Powell, who was a key contributor in the Toronto Raptors 2019 championship run, now a member of the Portland Trail Blazers:
Thibodeau also covets Trail Blazers swingman Norman Powell, who has an $11.6 million player option in 2021-22, sources said.
It’s unsurprising to hear that a three-and-d wing has caught the eye of head coach Tom Thibodeau, whose league-leading defense has catapulted the Knicks’ rebuild this year.
Powell, just 27 years old, is having a career season from behind the arc.
The sixth-year wing is averaging 18.9 points per game and connecting on 48 percent of his 6.2 nightly attempts from the three-point line.
That’s good for the 15th-best mark among all qualified players, per Stathead.com.
There’s unarguably a fit for Powell on this Knicks roster as constructed. In fact, expect New York to welcome any and all three-point shooting this offseason provided it comes at the right price.
Because as of Monday morning, their 26th-ranked offense is also ranked: 22nd in three-pointers made (11.5), 28th in three-point attempts (29.8), and ironically fifth in three-point percentage (38.6).
And if you look at the season, it’s undeniable that the Knicks’ best basketball has come in stretches where the three-ball is falling. It’s also largely why they’re on a nine-game winning streak.
Over that stretch, and in comparison to the aforementioned statistical rankings, New York is top-10 in both three-point makes (13.7) and three-point percentage (41.7) in the entire NBA.
Those numbers could become more of the norm if Norman Powell found his way to Madison Square Garden.
Powell Will Be a Costly Addition
As fun as speculating free-agent fits on different teams is, there’s also got to be an assessment of whether or not any pursuit of said free agent is realistic.
For the New York Knicks, a Norman Powell addition would be fun, and certainly to the liking of Tom Thibodeau.
But according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, it could also be pricey:
Powell is a borderline lock to decline his $11 million player option for next season, raising a pressing dilemma for the Raptors. Powell is going to get capital-P paid; executives expect a $20 million annual salary.
This reporting is from prior to the March 25 trade deadline, but there’s no reason things would have changed since.
Powell has seen a slight drop off in a lesser role with the Trail Blazers, but should still easily earn more than his $11.6-million player option for 2021-2022.
It’s also unlikely that a 27-year old having the best season of his career would opt not to land a long-term deal, especially if the price point is near what Lowe’s reporting.
But would the Knicks be willing to lock up future salary in a player outside of the top-tiers like Powell? As much as three-point shooting is a luxury in this league, there’s seemingly always some available.
It’s also unclear how much a guy like Powell raises New York’s ceiling, even with his sharpshooter’s gravity.
At the $20-million mark annually, don’t expect Norman Powell’s paychecks to have James Dolan’s signature.
As much as they’d undoubtedly like to bring him in, the potential of landing a star talent (as it has always) will head the priority list this offseason.
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