Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
One of the most pressing questions for the Knicks under new team president Leon Rose is: What do you do at point guard?
Rose inherits Frank Ntilikina, Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr. as his lead guards, along with two-way player Kadeem Allen. Former Knicks head coach David Fizdale said last week that he thought it was important for New York to find a point guard who was a threat from the perimeter. Others currently in the organization share those thoughts.
The Knicks have a team option on Payton for next season, and have Ntilikina and Smith under contract for next season. The club is projected to have three draft picks in the Top 36 picks of the 2020 NBA Draft, so they could target a point guard there.
The Knicks also should have significant cap space to use this summer in a sub-par free agent class. Fred VanVleet is, arguably, the top unrestricted free agent. They've also been rumored to have interest in a trade for Chris Paul.
Prior to the 2020 trade deadline, the Knicks had strong interest in acquiring a few guards. We know they engaged with Golden State on D'Angelo Russell -- both before and after the news of Rose's hire was reported. But prior to the news of the Rose hire, there was strong support in some corners of the organization to try to acquire Charlotte guard Terry Rozier, per sources.
The framework of one deal that had internal support sent Julius Randle, Smith Jr. and a future first-round pick to Charlotte for a package that included Rozier and Malik Monk, per sources.
It's unknown what else would have been in the deal and how close -- if at all -- it came to fruition. Also unknown is Charlotte's interest level in executing that trade.
But it's interesting to note because, prior to Rose's arrival, some questioned internally Randle's fit with Marcus Morris and RJ Barrett. The idea that there was support for a deal that would have brought Rozier back and included Randle being moved buoys that theory.
(Though it's hard to see then president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry -- who is still with the club -- signing off on a trade of their top offseason signing).
Randle put up solid numbers (19.5 points, 9.7 rebounds) on a Knicks team that was 24 games under .500 when the season was suspended due to the coronavirus crisis. However, he shot 28 percent from beyond the arc and opposing scouts saw the ball stop often when he had it on offense. Still, those same scouts see Randle as a talented offensive player who can thrive with a guard/wing who can break down the defense.
Rose assuredly will have his own evaluation of Randle, who is under contract for the next two seasons (the third is partially guaranteed). The 24-year-old also will likely get a fresh start with the Knicks' new coaching staff, assuming Rose decides against retaining Mike Miller.
So the questions about Randle's fit with Barrett prior to the trade deadline may not be relevant to the people making decisions for the Knicks in the future. But questions about the point guard position certainly will be.
New York has been searching for steady point guard play for much of the last two decades. Will they find it under Rose?