New coach David Fizdale believes the Knicks will be in position to have a huge impact on free agency next summer, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Mario Hezonja represents the Knicks’ only major signing this year, but Fizdale gave a hint of what the organization expects 12 months from now.
“We knew coming into this July there wasn’t a lot of money to spend,” he said. “We wanted to be real strategic with who we went after and if it fit the kind of guys we wanted to have here. I felt like we’ve done that and now we can just lock in, get into the group we have, start developing these guys, growing these guys, let them go through the ups and downs. And as we get our culture in place, [Kristaps Porzingis] gets healthy, we start moving into next summer, I really feel like we’ll have the bricks in place to make some big moves.”
Enes Kanter‘s $18.6MM salary will come off the books in 2019, and the $38MM still owed to Joakim Noah may have been stretched by then. In addition, Ron Baker, Emmanuel Mudiay and Troy Williams are all potential free agents.
There’s more news from the Atlantic Division:
- Knicks first-rounder Kevin Knox is focused on conditioning prior to the start of summer league, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. There was concern about Knox’s energy level at Kentucky, and he admits some of it was justified. “I worked on my conditioning a lot this summer as far as getting in extra sprints, so I keep my motor up the whole game,” he said. “You’re going to get tired at some point during the game. It’s good we got a lot of guys that if I have to sub myself out so I can be on the court 100 percent playing with full energy.”
- Dante Exum‘s new contract with the Jazz may complicate the Celtics‘ negotiations with Marcus Smart, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Although he believes it’s “highly likely” that Smart returns to Boston, the news that Exum received $33MM over three seasons could make contract talks more difficult. They were drafted back-to-back in 2014, but Smart has played 99 more games and his career scoring average is more than four points higher.
- A buyout appears more likely than the stretch provision for the Sixers and Jerryd Bayless, according to Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Philadelphia has 15 players under contract and may need to open a roster spot for second-round pick Shake Milton or overseas prospect Jonah Bolden.