With training camps less than a month away, the basketball season inches ever closer. Despite the offseason largely resolved, the Knicks still have some open questions.
Here are three they need to consider as the preseason approaches:
Is Evan Fournier playing for this team?
As one of New York’s headline signings of the 2021 offseason, Fournier appeared to be a key rotation piece, a sentiment backed up by his hot-shooting 2022 season. After a rough start to last season, Tom Thibodeau benched him in a major rotation shake-up that steered the season to the right direction.
He only played in 14 games after mid-November, either in garbage time or due to an injury wave, shooting 28.1 percent from three. Having fallen out of favor, many expected Fournier, whose contract expires next summer, to have been dealt by now.
Yet the Knicks have held onto him thus far, with the loudest trade talk coming from the man himself. Meanwhile, he tore up the FIBA World Cup, lending credence to him staying on as an emergency wing.
Can they convince Fournier to stick around even if he won’t get consistent minutes? His contract is valuable as an expiring salary filler in a blockbuster trade, the type the Knicks are trying to make.
The alternative is trading him, which may have to come with a pick attached. New York could waive him to let him sign elsewhere and use the roster spot, but that would be a waste.
One way or another, this needs to be resolved before the season begins, unless they want a disgruntled veteran in their locker room.
Where is the Immanuel Quickley extension?
This year’s Sixth Man of the Year runner-up and big leap-taker was Quickley, the third-year guard who’s grown from electric gunslinger to all-around combo threat. Whether as a trusted piece of the rotation or trade asset, the Knicks will want to secure him for the long haul after that bright of a season at 24 years of age.
Quickley enters the fourth and final year of his rookie deal, after which he can either begin a new extension or hit restricted free agency. As with their other prominent prospects and rotation pieces, New York will likely ink him to a new deal, but with him becoming eligible July 1 and the rest of their summer transactions likely complete, where is it?
SNY’s Ian Begley believes it’ll happen around October, closer to the regular season, and it’s suggested Quickley will want something north of $20 million a year. The Knicks shouldn’t haggle much, and the relationship appears strong, so this is hopefully just timing and prioritization holding up the resolution.
Is efficient RJ real?
Fans have long awaited the star leap from RJ Barrett, who’s shown his many skills across different dimensions in his four NBA seasons since the Knicks drafted him third overall. He’s never managed to put it together for a full season though, leaving fans teased and tantalized with flashes of brilliance.
The latest examples? A promising postseason run and scalding FIBA World Cup.
Barrett’s three-game stretch to seal New York’s first round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers saw him average 22 points per game on 56 percent shooting from the field, which he followed up with a solid series against the eventual Finals contender Miami Heat. He’s shot the lights out in FIBA, including a 13-14 shooting 31-point game.
If this is real, and Barrett’s ready to bring this efficiency full-time, the Knicks may not need that star trade they’ve been pursuing. Barrett is the X-factor to their season, and if he’s hitting shots consistently, while doing some of the other things we’ve seen from him, New York could be looking at contention.