Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Unless you're an elite player, starting jobs in the NBA aren't handed out in July. So it's way too early to predict who will be starting at point guard for the Knicks next season.
But at the moment, the plan is for new Knick Elfrid Payton to get "every opportunity" to win the starting point guard position next season, per SNY sources familiar with the matter.
The Knicks signed Payton to a two-year, $16 million deal with a team option for the second season.
New York reportedly inquired about a trade for Payton last year before the trade deadline. Payton was drafted by the Magic when current Knicks GM Scott Perry was with the organization.
Payton's role/playing time may have an effect on Dennis Smith Jr. Smith started regularly at point guard for the Knicks last season after he was acquired in the Kristaps Porzingis trade. Smith was the top player acquired by New York in the deal. The Knicks also acquired two future first-round picks and cap space in the deal.
It is unknown if the Knicks would play Payton and Smith in the same backcourt. Knicks coach David Fizdale hasn't commented on of the team's new additions. (Doing so would violate NBA rules.)
Payton recently told HoopsHype his decision to sign with the Knicks was based, in part, on his potential role with the club.
"Playing time was a factor and it depended on the deal,'' Payton told the website. "I obviously don't mind playing on a one-year deal ... but when you're in a situation where you're on a one-year deal, you have to be able to play to showcase what you can do. If you're on a one-year deal and you don't play, then your hands are kind of tied, you feel me? I also looked at the coaching and playing style."
Payton's presence also may impact Frank Ntilikina. The Knicks talked to at least one team about a trade involving Ntilikina and the return of an early second-round pick. They also discussed deals around the return of a late first-round pick. Some teams considering Ntilikina were wary of making the trade before the draft because his salary ($5 million) would impact their cap space in free agency and they couldn't be sure of what they were getting in Ntilikina, who has dealt with injuries and inconsistent performances/minutes allotment in New York.
It is unclear if the Knicks will continue to try to move Ntilikina. Guard Kadeem Allen, a two-way player, should also compete for a spot in the backcourt rotation.'
Regarding Payton and Smith, Payton told HoopsHype that he could work with the 21-year-old. He also thinks Knicks fans will like the club's other additions, which include Julius Randle, Reggie Bullock, Wayne Ellington and Taj Gibson.
"Just sit back and watch, man. They'll grow to love this group of guys. It's totally natural to feel some type of way when you miss out on guys like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but I think they're going to grow to love this group," he told the website. "I feel we embody what New York basketball was about back in the day -- just being grimy, tough guys who play with a chip on their shoulder and have something to prove."