Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Regardless of what happens with the salary cap amid the coronavirus crisis, we know the Knicks are going to have money to spend in free agency.
While it's way too early to know who they'll target, it's worth noting that some in the Knicks' front office are enamored with Detroit's Christian Wood.
Wood was in the midst of a career season when the league suspended play due to the coronavirus crisis. The Pistons big man moved to the starting lineup after the Andre Drummond trade and averaged 23 points, 10 rebounds, and shot 40 percent from beyond the arc as a starter.
He'd established a career-high in scoring in three straight games prior to the NBA's suspension of the season, including a 32-point outing against the Sixers the night the NBA announced it would go on hiatus. (The 24-year-old reportedly tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend, but is feeling well).
Wood will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Detroit has his early-bird rights, so the club can exceed the salary cap to re-sign the power forward. But they will have strong competition from teams with cap space.
Will one of those teams be the Knicks?
Wood would certainly fit New York's youth movement. And he also could fit into a gap in the club's front court.
Taj Gibson has $1 million of his $10 million contract for next season guaranteed, and Bobby Portis has a $15.7 million team option for next year. So New York could have just two big men on the roster (Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson) going into free agency.
Based on how he's played this season, Wood would clearly be an upgrade for New York's front line. He's 13th in the NBA in PER. The only two players who weren't All-Stars ahead of him on the list were New York's Robinson and Portland's Hassan Whiteside.
Interestingly, Wood's numbers this season are comparable to another former Knicks power forward -- Kristaps Porzingis. Wood's scoring, rebounding and assist average per 36 minutes are on par with Porzingis, whom New York traded to Dallas in a deal that, so far, has looked awful for the Knicks.
In order to change the perception of that deal, the Knicks need to do something productive with the cap space it created. Signing a player like Wood this summer could help that effort, especially with some opposing scouts believing he has All-Star potential.
Per a source, New York had been monitoring Wood for much of the season prior to the coronavirus outbreak. That tells you that Wood is on the Knicks' radar.
New Knicks president Leon Rose will likely make significant additions/changes to New York's front office prior to free agency. He also is likely to hire a new head coach.
So plenty can change between now and the start of free agency for New York. But the idea that Wood has fans in the organization is worth pointing out as New York -- and 29 other teams -- turn their eye toward the offseason amid NBA's uncertain future.