As the Knicks and other NBA teams watch from home while the NBA Finals continues, offseason scouting has officially begun. This is not only an opportunity to see who is excelling, but to find potential diamonds in the rough. Which forthcoming free agents are flying under the radar and may thrive in an elevated role?
This year, one could make the argument that Golden State swingman Ian Clark will get paid big bucks. Matthew Dellavedova cashed in on a lucrative contract after winning with the Cavaliers last summer. There's no doubt players with winning pedigrees are so important to developing a positive culture. The Knicks are lucky that a seldom-used player from the 2015 Warriors' championship winning team fell into their laps following the Derrick Rose trade.
Rose should be expected to take his talents elsewhere this summer, but Justin Holiday will be a priority for New York. Previously considered an afterthought of the deal, Holiday could emerge as the Knicks' bigger takeaway. Finally getting the playing time he craved in Golden State, Holiday became one of the league's more dependable 3 and D guys this past season.
He shot career-high percentages across the board: 43 percent from the field, 36 percent from deep, and 83 percent from the charity stripe. His 7.7 points per contest helped him stand tall as a very reliable role player. Now that opposing teams have gotten a better taste of what he can do, the 28-year-old will be even more in demand as a free agent. The Knicks shouldn't let him slip away since Holiday's value goes far beyond what he does on the court.
As a basketball journeyman, he's had to prove himself on multiple stages across the world. Holiday's a fighter and knows what it means to earn his keep, and he's an underrated role model for younger players. What's more, he knows what it means to win on the big stage and what it takes to get there. He's been a part of it all and understands what goes into developing chemistry and instilling the necessary culture --- not just over the course of an 82 game season, but beyond.
Such an experience is becoming rarer these days with only members of the Warriors and Cavaliers getting a hold of that type of success over the last three years. Holiday's a rare member of an exclusive class of players. There should be somewhat of a premium paid for NBA champions, regardless of the role they played. The experience of even simply being along for the ride helps them grow.
As Golden State closes in on another title, the Knicks should value Holiday's prior presence. Players get paid after realizing those big moments every year. Holiday knows what it feels like and has a foundation of successful play and production with New York. This year's Finals should help New York understand they already have a valuable piece they should work on retaining this summer.