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The Knicks sign Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to an Exhibit 10 contract

Put on your learning cap.

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Five Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Alfred Tennyson famously wrote, “In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove; In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” In November 2020 the Knicks’ fancy turns to Kentucky and CAA. In that vein:

A few notes:

  • Here’s where the Knicks have ranked in defensive rating out of 30 teams from 2001-02 till now, a.k.a the post-Van Gundy epoch: 23, 15, 25, 26, 25, 29, 23, 27, 22, 5, 18, 24, 28, 18, 26, 23, 26 and 23. So yes, Kidd-Gilchrist’s shooting form belongs in Dr. Frankenstein’s lab, if not Dr. Moreau’s. But the erstwhile Wildcat and current CAA client can defend. If he ends up a part of New York’s rotation next year, he gives the Knicks a weapon on one end of the floor, which is more than can be said about most of the other Knicks.
  • There’s little to no commitment or risk with this kind of signing. Are you new to the world of Exhibit 10 contracts? I was. Here’s what I learned:

“An Exhibit 10 contract is a one-year, minimum salary NBA contract with a specific Exhibit 10 attachment built into it and no other bonuses. These attachments are not present in every NBA contract, only deals in which both parties have agreed to include it.

Exhibit 10 attachments allow the NBA team to convert a player’s one-year, minimum contract into a two-way contract but this has to occur prior to the start of the regular season.

These one-year deals are often non-guaranteed, which lets NBA teams waive the player and remove their cap hit from the team payroll.

Exhibit 10 attachments allow players to earn a bonus of $5,000 to $50,000 in the event that they are waived by the NBA team, then sign a deal with that franchise’s G League affiliate and remain with that affiliate team for 60 days.

This bonus $5,000 – $50,000, which does not count against the NBA salary cap, is in addition to the G League salary the player would also collect in this particular scenario. If a player’s Exhibit 10 contract is converted to a two-way deal, the Exhibit 10 bonus converts to guaranteed salary.”

If Anthony Davis decides next week he wants to sign with New York (he did play at Kentucky), Kidd-Gilchrist is not going to stop that from happening. This is a low-stakes deal in every possible way.

  • While accurate shooting is not MKG’s mother tongue, that doesn’t mean he can’t contribute on the offensive end. Take it from someone with partial fluency in a second language: there are gaps and crevices where sense and instinct exist between fluency and ignorance. Last year David Fizdale raises eyebrows and cackles when he said Lance Thomas could be the Knicks’ version of Draymond Green. Kidd-Gilchrist, 27, was eliciting such comparisons a few years ago, after the Hornets figured out he was better suited as a small-ball 5 than a big burly swingman. Jonathan Tjarks wrote about it at The Ringer:

“Most of his individual stats are up from last season, when he was playing primarily as a small forward in a starting lineup next to Dwight Howard. So far this season, he has almost cut in half the frequency of midrange shots, from 35.2 percent of his total field goal attempts to only 20 percent. And his field goal percentage on shots within 5 feet of the rim has jumped from 64.2 percent to 73.3 percent. Charlotte is allowing him to play in more space this season. They often invert their second unit offense, with [Willy] Hernangomez at the 3-point line and MKG rolling to the basket.

The defense has to account for Kidd-Gilchrist when he’s involved in the pick-and-roll. While he’s not an elite rim-runner, he’s a crafty ball-handler who can slither through cracks and finish inside. The MKG and Kemba Walker two-man game is a poor man’s version of Draymond and Steph Curry, where the screener makes plays in 4-on-3 situations. Kidd-Gilchrist can’t pass or shoot like Draymond, but he can find the open man on the move. His assist percentage has jumped from 5.9 percent last season to a career-high 15.1 percent this season.

Kidd-Gilchrist is also setting career highs in offensive rebounding (9.3) and block percentage (8.6). He can be a dominant player on the glass for a player his size. The other four players in the NBA with those numbers are all traditional big men. While his numbers will likely regress over the course of the season, a guy spending more time in the paint should have career highs in those categories. Moving inside lets Kidd-Gilchrist become the best version of himself instead of staying on the perimeter and trying to be something that he isn’t.”

If you love living life long enough to see and absorb as much as you can, then this is an exciting move! Players like the 6’6” MKG who live off the margins of the niches and ecosystems we’re accustomed to — especially in today’s NBA, with so many teams playing the same way — remind us of the simple joy of diversity. He will not win MVP. He won’t make the All-Star team. Neither will anyone else on this roster. But after years of point guards who can’t drive and shooting guards who can’t shoot and wings who can’t fly and bigs whose impact is anything but, a thick and powerful weirdo who goes his own way is a drummer I’ll march behind. Or he’ll be cut before January, and we’ll all be a little poorer for it...except James Dolan, who will likely live and die without ever knowing what that feels like.