New York signed Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier, but did the team do enough to climb the Eastern Conference rankings?
A familiar feeling crept over Knicks fans in the opening hours of free agency Monday evening
After approaching August with hopes of landing a marquee free agent—namely a point guard—the Knicks quickly ran up a bill totaling $186 million in total salary. But New York’s spending spree didn’t bring Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard or Lonzo Ball to the Big Apple. Instead, the Knicks made Evan Fournier their marquee move, paid relatively handsomely for Derrick Rose and Nerlens Noel, and committed to largely the same roster in 2021–22 as last year’s overachieving group. New York’s moves in free agency signaled a return to previous eras of mismanagement, with a familiar refrain emanating across basketball Twitter: same old Knicks.
Landing Fournier and bringing back a middle core of veterans wasn’t exactly New York’s first plan at the outset of the summer. Leon Rose and the Knicks’ front office likely would have used as much of its $53 million in cap space as necessary to land Paul, but Phoenix bit the bullet and paid $120 million for its aging floor general. Kyle Lowry received a hearty $90 million from the Heat. Mike Conley returned to the Jazz on a $72 million deal. The top of the point-guard market settled quickly, forcing New York to pursue alternate options. You can’t criticize the Knicks for exiting Monday night without a proven All-Star. Questioning their moves from there is the more appropriate exercise.