The New York Knicks have done a great job this season. Led by first-time All-Star Julius Randle, the Knicks are in a playoff hunt with the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference. But the Knicks should take this "successful" season and build on it immediately next year.
They have a star in Randle and a great coach in Tom Thibodeau, but they have a shot at building one of the best teams in the East next season. The Knicks also have money this summer, around $48,017,364, while the projected cap is set at around $113 million next season. Here is how the Knicks can build a contender next season.
3. Sign DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan is having one of his best seasons this year, averaging 20.9 PPG and 7.0 APG for the San Antonio Spurs. As DeMar stated, he is taking a "wide open" approach to free agency and that means he will have an open mind. If a big market like the Knicks come knocking, he will listen.
The Knicks should go after DeRozan hoping for a deal around $15 mil per year on a 2-year contract. If DeMar wants to take a gamble and try to prove he is a star who can lead a team in the playoffs, he could do a lot worse than the Knicks. Plus, the New York Knicks staff will be just getting started.
2. Sign John Collins
The next big step for the Knicks is to sign John Collins in free agency. Collins is averaging 18.2 PPG and 7.8 RPG for the Hawks this season, which are very solid numbers, but the Hawks already have a crowded frontcourt with Clint Capela. Therefore, the Knicks can offer him a $20 million per year contract.
Collins knows he's good enough to get that money, and so do the Knicks. New York will field an athletic and powerful frontcourt with Randle and Collins, and their athleticism will make them difficult to guard alongside DeMar DeRozan. One more major step is in place for New York to create a superteam.
1. Trade For Russell Westbrook
The final piece to the New York puzzle is trading for future Hall of Fame star Russell Westbrook. Westbrook leads the NBA in triple-doubles with 20 and is averaging one this season with 21.8 PPG, 10.5 RPG, and 10.6 APG. The 9-time All-Star is one of the game's greatest players and the Knicks should take a run at the final years of Westbrook's prime.
The trade package will involve Frank Ntilikina, Obi Toppin, Kevin Knox, and two future first-round picks to the Wizards for Westbrook. The Wizards should rebuild while they can, and picks and young players like Toppin and Knox make sense for them. With the addition of Westbrook, the Knicks will have arguably the most athletic team in the NBA.
2021/22 New York Knicks
The Knicks will retain rights to center Mitchell Robinson, who had a strong season averaging 8.3 PPG and 8.1 RPG before he got injured, and electric point guard Emmanuel Quickley. Of course, RJ Barrett seems to be blooming by averaging 17.5 PPG and 5.9 RPG this season.
With these young players coming off the bench, and if Derrick Rose can agree to sign a mid-level contract to return to the team, the Knicks' depth is sensational. The starting lineup of Westbrook, Barrett, DeRozan, Randle, and Collins will outrun and outscore the majority of the teams. Westbrook loves a long partner, and he will have three with DeRozan and the two bigs.
Each player can score in isolation and they can be dominant defensively if Thibodeau can work his magic. Overall, the Knicks have a solid core with some bright young players and a star in Julius Randle. Adding three more star players makes the Knicks a top-3 team in the East, and finally, Madison Square Garden has a contender again.