Happy Free Agency Eve to one and all! It's an exciting time when boys and girls wait nervously to unwrap the presents under the free agent tree. The Knicks have cap space, and they're ready to buy, buy, buy!
But free agency can be a double-edged sword. It may be hard to remember, as last summer the team didn't have any free agent worth keeping, but there are a few players on the current roster who are sure to attract attention from rival teams. I'm referring in particular to Lance Thomas and Langston Galloway.
Phil Jackson has already singled those two out as players to re-sign ...
Phil said he expects some of the Knicks free agents back, particularly Langston Galloway and Lance Thomas.— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) June 23, 2016
... but the outside interest has already begun:
Yet another name on the #Twolves FA radar, I hear: forward Lance Thomas. Upgrading the bench one priority.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) June 30, 2016
Screw you, Wolves! Stay away from our Lance!
Galloway hasn't received attention from the rumor mill as of yet. The Knicks wisely made the second-year guard a qualifying offer:
The New York Knicks issued a qualifying offer to Langston Galloway, making him restricted -- but not Cleanthony Early @BBallInsiders— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) June 30, 2016
That lands him in the "Gilbert Arenas" restricted class, and he was already prominently featured in Zach Lowe's big free agency primer:
Watch out for the so-called "Gilbert Arenas" restricted free agents with only one or two years spent in the league, especially Langston Galloway, Tyler Johnson and Jordan Clarkson. Rival teams can offer them only the midlevel exception (about $5.6 million) in the first year and a small raise in Year 2, but they can leap all the way up to the player's max salary in Years 3 and 4. (These are the trickster offers Houston used to pry away Lin and Asik four years ago.)
The bigger numbers should come into play only for Clarkson, though a team might offer a backloaded three-year deal to Galloway or Johnson.
Honestly, I have been salivating over the thought of prying Johnson away from the Heat. I think he's a good, young shooting guard, and moreover the thought of even slightly inconveniencing Pat Riley brings tears to my eyes.But what if somebody swoops in and takes Galloway instead? He may lack the upside of a Tyler Johnson, but he, like Lance, is a rock-solid rotation player. Galloway in particular played in all 82 games for New York last season -- that miiiiight prove beneficial during the Derrick Rose Era.
Think of how badly the Knicks are in need of depth at the moment. They have five -- count 'em, five -- players under contract. Two of those players -- Kyle O'Quinn and Justin Holiday -- are not guaranteed to be contributors. They need so much help, and two key players from last year's team will be dangling out there for competitors to pick off.
The front office appears to be in full-on Knicks star-chasing mode at the present, on the hunt for big names like Joakim Noah. But light a candle for Lance and Lang, my friends, and pray that the Zen Master finds a way to keep them in the orange and blue.