A successful Knicks season has come to an abrupt end.
Miami eliminated New York from the NBA Playoffs on Friday night, closing out the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a Game 6 win. The Knicks simply couldn't match the effort, execution and tenacity of a Heat squad that has now reached the Eastern Conference Finals in back-to-back years.
While Tom Thibodeau and his players didn't end the 2022-23 campaign on a high note, this season was another building block for the franchise. New York finished with a 47-35 record, clinched a playoff berth and advanced to the second round for the first time since 2013.
Now, the challenge for the Knicks will be taking the next step from postseason participant to legitimate contender.
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Key storyline: Putting the right pieces around Jalen Brunson
Julius Randle may have earned an All-Star selection, but Brunson established himself as New York's most important player. He earned every penny of his contract by averaging a career-high 24.0 points and 6.2 assists per game, and his steady hand helped the Knicks bounce back from a disappointing 2021-22 season.
With a reliable point guard locked in for multiple years, the Knicks must develop or find other players who can not only contribute during the regular season, but also in a playoff atmosphere. That means the front office will need to take a hard look at the top of the roster.
For the second time in the postseason, Randle saw a sharp drop in production. His scoring and shooting numbers were way down compared to the regular season. RJ Barrett is only 22 years old, but he will be entering Year 5. He will be expected to make a leap. Outside of that trio, only Mitchell Robinson has a contract guaranteed through the 2024-25 season.
And then there are the role players.
The Knicks should be able to re-sign Josh Hart at a reasonable price, but Immanuel Quickley's contract discussions could be more complicated. The Sixth Man of the Year finalist was a strong piece of the regular season rotation. Like Randle, though, he has struggled in the playoffs.
It's also unclear how they will handle Obi Toppin. He hasn't lived up to expectations as a top-10 pick, and his minutes have gone up and down throughout his career.
While the Knicks may not be feeling the pressure to swing for the fences with a star trade this summer, at a certain point, they will need to answer a big question: How much confidence do they have in the current core?
Knicks upcoming free agents
Hart has a player option worth nearly $13 million for the 2023-24 season, but the expectation is that he will decline the option and reach an agreement on a new deal with the Knicks, according to HoopsHype's Michael Scotto.
|Unrestricted||Restricted||Player option||Team option|
|—||—||Josh Hart||Miles McBride|
Knicks future salaries, roster
Here is a breakdown of player salaries for the Knicks over the next few seasons:
|Jalen Brunson||$26,346,666||$24,960,001||$24,960,001 (PO)|
|Julius Randle||$25,660,800||$27,561,600||$29,462,400 (PO)|
|Evan Fournier||$18,857,143||$19,000,000 (TO)|
|Derrick Rose||$15,596,339 (TO)|
|Josh Hart||$12,960,000 (PO)|
|Quentin Grimes||$2,385,720||$4,296,682 (TO)|
|Jericho Sims||$1,927,896||$2,092,344 (TO)|
|Miles McBride||$1,836,096 (TO)|
PO = Player option
TO = Team option
Knicks 2023 NBA Draft picks
The Knicks will have a first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft if the Mavericks' selection falls outside of the top 10. New York owns that pick via the Kristaps Porzingis trade.
In his most recent mock draft, The Sporting News' Kyle Irving had the Knicks taking Kansas forward Gradey Dick.
"Dick has elevated his stock into the lottery range, proving to be one of the best — and most consistent — perimeter shooters in this class," Irving wrote. "He finished the season shooting a blistering 40.3 percent from 3-point range on 5.7 attempts per game, showing off his limitless range and ability to knock down shots off the catch, dribble or flying off screens.
"The Knicks could use a shooting specialist like Dick, who has 3-and-D potential at the next level once he fills out his frame."