The Knicks face the Pelicans in New Orleans on Wednesday. So you will probably hear and read plenty about the future of Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, a potential Knicks target in free agency.
But another lead guard on the Knicks’ schedule this week bears watching: Dennis Schroder.
Schroder is among the players on New York’s radar as the club looks ahead to free agency, SNY has learned.
The 27-year-old is averaging 15 points and five assists per game in his first season in Los Angeles with the Lakers.
According to ESPN, the Lakers offered Schroder a four-year, $84 million extension prior to the trade deadline. Schroder rejected the extension, presumably because he anticipates similar offers in free agency.
New York will have enough cap space to make Schroder a competitive offer in free agency. The club is projected to have at least $50 million in cap space in the 2021 offseason.
Point guard is a key position for the Knicks heading into the offseason -- Elfrid Payton, Derrick Rose and Frank Ntilikina will all be free agents in 2021, so they will probably have at least one new lead guard in 2021-22.
Between now and free agency in August, the Knicks will have to decide if Schroder is the right fit for a lineup that’s likely to heavily feature RJ Barrett and Julius Randle next season.
They could also turn to Ball, a restricted free agent in 2021.
The Knicks and Pelicans touched base prior to the trade deadline -- one person with knowledge of the Pelicans/Knicks Ball dynamic expects New York to re-engage on Ball in the offseason.
Since Ball will be a restricted free agent, the Knicks will have to sign him to an offer sheet and wait for the Pelicans to decide whether or not to match the deal. Based on how New Orleans operated at the trade deadline, it’s fair to assume that they are unlikely to re-sign Ball.
But the Pelicans could look to execute a sign-and-trade involving Ball in order to avoid losing him for nothing, so the Knicks’ pursuit of Ball could be complicated.
Schroder, it’s worth noting, is an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. So the Knicks wouldn’t have to worry about offer sheets if they pursued him. But based on the extension offer Schroder reportedly declined from the Lakers, he probably won’t sign for less than $20 million per year.
Should the Knicks spend $20 million-plus per season on a point guard this offseason?
They’ve overachieved so far this season, so you can make a strong argument to support that kind of spending.
Under first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau, Randle is in the midst of the best season of his career and will be in the conversation for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award after earning his first All-Star nod.
Barrett has taken a big step forward in his second season. And the players around Barrett and Randle have been much better than many expected coming into the year.
Elite, consistent point guard play is one of the biggest pieces missing from the roster. Maybe the Knicks fill that void this offseason. Will it be Schroder? Plenty can change between now and early August. But the seven-year veteran is one of the players under consideration at the moment.