The draft is a week away, and that means free agency will be hot on its heels. The Knicks just put together one of their best seasons of the 21st century, but they’re going to face some tough decisions, with over half the roster hitting the open market.
One of those names is Reggie Bullock, who played in 65 games and was one of the most consistent shooters on the Knicks this year, hitting 41% of his threes on 6.1 attempts per game.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, that hasn’t gone unnoticed around the league:
The source said the Lakers, whom Bullock played for in 2018-19 alongside LeBron James, also have Bullock on their list. Interestingly, a report surfaced Wednesday the Lakers will try to lure Chris Paul back to Los Angeles. Paul and Bullock are both from North Carolina and are close.
Bullock’s preference is to stay with the Knicks, but he likely will command the full mid-level exception of $9.23 million. One source believes Bullock, who turned 30 in March, will seek a three-year deal.
Bullock being an in-demand commodity isn’t surprising — as the playoffs showed, he’s definitely not at his best as a starter soaking up big minutes thanks to his lack of ball handling, but in a Torrey Craig-like role where he could play 20 minutes of shooting and tough defense, he could be a real asset to a contender.
Should Reggie command too big of a price tag, it could pave the way for one Knick that was once assumed to be a goner to find his way back to New York:
If the Knicks lose Bullock, they’d be more likely to attempt to match a modest offer to guard Frank Ntilikina, a restricted free agent. According to a league source, the Knicks haven’t ruled out bringing back their 2017 lottery pick selected by Phil Jackson, even if Thibodeau barely played him last season.
That... tracks? Surprisingly? Tom Thibodeau pegged Frank Ntilikina for a “situational” defensive role last year, but perhaps he was grooming him behind the scenes to be a Bullock-esque player. Ntilikina shot over 65% from the corner three last year, good for the 100th percentile in the NBA, per Cleaning the Glass. On top of it, he can handle the ball much better than Bullock, and is every bit the versatile defender. If he can be signed for, say, half of that $9.23 million annual salary that Bullock hopes to command, that might serve the Knicks better.
(It should be noted that Frank likely will not be a restricted free agent — his cap hold is just shy of $20 million, which would clog the Knicks’ cap space considerably this offseason. What would likely happen is the Knicks wouldn’t offer the qualifying offer, and if Frank valued staying with the Knicks, he and his agent would just keep them abreast of the offer to beat and let the Knicks match if they so pleased.)
It should be an interesting draft and free agency period, with the Knicks having three picks in the top 32 of the draft and a league-leading $50 million in cap space. Buckle up!