The Knicks on Tuesday made official five of their free agent signings, and just in time, as the Summer League squad has struggled to put together a victory and a distraction was necessary.
Say hello to your newest Knickerbockers: Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Elfrid Payton, Taj Gibson and Wayne Ellington. We all know the saying; now that they are Knicks, these guys will be Knicks forever, even if some of them only wind up staying in town for one season.
The official, WELCOME TO THE MECCA #NewYorkForever pic.twitter.com/Pa2gEzEBkS— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) July 9, 2019
“We’re thrilled to welcome Wayne, Taj, Elfrid, Bobby and Julius to New York,” Scott Perry said in the press release announcing the deals. “Collectively, we’re adding a mix of extremely talented and experienced multi-dimensional players who will improve our team as we continue building out a deep and versatile roster. These players are all tough-minded, motivated and ready to compete, and we’re excited to have them as part of the Knicks family.”
Very nice statement, Scott! Professional and to the point. Some nice adjectives in there.
By the way, do the Knicks have a case for trademark infringement against the Minnesota Timberwolves?
Once Wolves, always Wolves.— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) July 10, 2019
Thank you. pic.twitter.com/8nYf4Va7Ji
Anyway, the signings add to the roster a group of relatively young players — minus Gibson and Ellington, who are 34 and 31, respectively. The group is made up of three power forwards (Randle, Portis, Gibson), one shooting guard/wing (Ellington), and one point guard (Payton). Randle and Portis are both 24-years-old, and Payton is 25.
If reports are to be believed, meanwhile, the Knicks are not done chasing power forwards. The team has reportedly made an offer to Marcus Morris, who is considering going back on an agreement he previously had with the San Antonio Spurs, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Ditching the Spurs to join the Knicks? That’s certainly an interesting career choice.
Additionally, the Knicks were one of multiple teams that recently attended a workout in Las Vegas featuring Amar’e Stoudemire, Monta Ellis and some others. Stoudemire has undergone numerous surgeries and his most recent NBA game took place during the 2015-16 season, but STAT is apparently quite serious about making a comeback, according to SNY. Does he make sense on the Knicks? No. Well, unless you consider that the team is clearly hoping to secure the world record for most power forwards ever assembled.
Alright, back to the new free agent signings. While the Knicks didn’t officially disclose the terms of the contracts, here is what we’ve been told by people who know things: Randle’s deal is three years, $63 million; Portis is signed for two years, $31 million; Gibson’s deal is two years, $20 million; and Ellington and Payton each received two-year contracts worth $16 million apiece.
The contracts for Randle, Portis and Ellington reportedly have team options for their final years, while the Gibson and Payton deals supposedly contain a “small partial guarantee” for the last year, depending upon certain circumstances.
Taj Gibson's contract with the New York Knicks is not a team option for Year 2, but instead is a small partial guarantee for $1M if he is on the team past 6/28/2020.https://t.co/o1dHlPjFW8— Jeff Siegel (@jgsiegel) July 10, 2019
Not guaranteeing all the money, and in some cases including a team option, is good! Eventually, however, the Knicks are going to have to find some players who they want to, you know, actually, really commit to.
Randle seems like the only one of the new signings with a better than negligible chance of that happening. He had the best season of his young career last year with the New Orleans Pelicans, averaging 21.4 points (52% shooting, 34% from three), 8.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
The rest of the new guys feel similar to last year’s free agent signings of players such as Mario Hezonja and Noah Vonleh. Maybe Portis will stick. Maybe Ellington will stick. Maybe Gibson has found the fountain of youth. Payton, like Hezonja last year, is a guy that Perry drafted when he worked for the Orlando Magic.
Portis posted 14.2 points (44% shooting, 40% from three) and 8.1 rebounds per game last year for the Chicago Bulls, which ain’t too shabby. He’ll have to find minutes amongst a sea of power forwards, of course. Gibson averaged 10.8 points (57% shooting), plus 6.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists, for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Who’s going to play center besides Mitchell Robinson, by the way?
Ellington, meanwhile, averaged 10.3 points (42% shooting, 37% from three), plus 2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.02 steals for the Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons. Finally, Payton, who played with Randle on the Pelicans, posted 10.6 points (43% shooting, 31% from three), to go along with 7.6 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.05 steals. The Knicks made sure to note in their press release that, last season, Payton became “just the fifth player in NBA history to record a triple-double in five consecutive games, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robinson and Russell Westbrook.” Looks like we’ve got the next NBA great.
Will these guys help the Knicks notch more than 17 wins this season? Hopefully. How about more than 20? 25? The answer is maybe. Seeing as the summer league squad, which features way more actual Knicks than any team should want on their summer league roster, has failed to win a game in their first three contests, all signs are pointing to a difficult season ahead.
But at least the roster will be full of players!