Knicks face difficult decision to lock up Immanuel Quickley
Leon Rose and the Knicks may not have been an option this summer.
At this rate, they may have to extend Emmanuel Quickley’s contract when he becomes eligible for a new deal on July 1, regardless of what that does to their salary cap situation in the coming years.
The third-year guard has excelled on both ends of the floor.
He has been so consistent over the past three months, which is crucial to the streaking team’s success.
The latest example came on the just-concluded two-game road trip, when the Knicks pulled off thrilling wins over the Heat and Celtics to extend their NBA-high winning streak to nine games.
Quickley scored 21 points and a career-high 38 points against the Heat in 55 minutes against the Celtics while filling in for injured starter Jalen Brunson.
“He’s a tough one. You want a body of work while playing big minutes. [Sunday] The night was beyond big minutes,” ESPN salary cap guru Bobby Marks, a former Nets executive, said in a phone interview. “But at the end of the day, you still have where he falls in Brunson’s pecking order [Julius] Randall, [RJ] Barrett’s contract hasn’t started yet, after all [Quentin] Grimes. You definitely want to prioritize cap space in 2024. I think he’s a priority for New York, but I don’t think he’s a July 1 priority.
Some big names are set to hit free agency in 2024, such as Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown and Hawks guard DeJonte Murray.
Currently, the 23-year-old Quickley’s cap hold (a player’s placeholder amount counts against a team’s salary cap until he either signs a new deal or waives his rights) for the 2024-25 season. $12.5 million is a figure. 25th overall in 2020, tied for where he was selected in the draft.
An extension will obviously pay more than that. Marks speculated that a reasonable deal for both sides would be similar to the four-year, $95 million extension the Hawks gave De’Andre Hunter last October.
Wings like Hunter, it should be noted, are more valuable than true guards like the 6-foot-3 Quickley, according to Marks.
He’s unlikely to get the same deal as Tyler Hero (4 years, $130 million) or the Warriors’ Jordan Poole (4 years, $140 million).
“He’s not getting it,” Marks said. “There’s less of a body of work for Quickley than those boys.”
Quickley has shown over the last three months just how important he is to the Knicks.
Since his role was expanded on Dec. 4, when coach Tom Thibdodeau reduced his rotation to nine, the third-year guard has been sensational.
He is averaging 15.3 points, 3.2 assists, shooting 47 percent from the field and 38.8 from 3-point range.
The Knicks, on average, are outscoring teams by 5.3 points when he’s on the floor and plus-7.8 per 100 possessions.
They are 29-14 in that span.
He has scored in double figures in 11 consecutive games and 32 of 35 contests.
His defense, however, has been even more impressive.
His overall 107.3 defensive rating is better than any Knick in the rotation.
When he is the primary defender, opponents are shooting just 43.1 percent from the field, one of the best stats in the NBA.
The way the Knicks view Knicks has changed.
Earlier in the year, they were reportedly shopping him for draft capital, but as his game began to improve, they opted to grab him at the trade deadline, and he blossomed.
Now Leon Rose and Co. will have to decide if it’s worth cutting into their future cap space by extending him, and how much they’re willing to pay the homegrown player who has developed so well this season.
“I think the next month and a half and the playoffs will determine if the value of the extension outweighs the cap space priority,” Marks said.