Knicks face difficult decision to lock up Immanuel Quickley
Leon Rose and the Knicks had no choice this summer.
At this rate, they may have to renew Immanuel Quickley’s contract once he becomes eligible for a new deal on July 1, regardless of what this does to their salary cap for years to come.
That’s how well the third-year guard performed on both ends of the floor.
He’s been so consistent over the last three months, so important to the streaking team’s success.
The latest example came on the just-completed two-game road trip, as 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 against the Heat and a career-high 38 points in 55 minutes against the Celtics while filling in for injured starter Jalen Brunson.
‘He’s a tough one. You want more of a body of work that plays big minutes. [Sunday] the night was over the big minutes,” ESPN salary cap guru Bobby Marks, the former Nets manager, said in a phone interview. “But at the end of the day, where does he fall in Brunson’s pecking order, you still have [Julius] Randle, [RJ] Barrett’s contract has not yet started [Quentin] Grimes. You definitely want to prioritize capspace in 2024. I think he’s a priority for New York, but I don’t think he’s a priority for July 1.”
Some big names will be broadcasting for free in 2024, such as Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown and Hawks guard Dejounte Murray.
Currently, the 23-year-old Quickley’s cap hold (the temporary amount a player counts toward the team’s salary cap until he signs a new deal or waives his rights) for the 2024-25 season is $12.5 million, a figure tied to where he was selected in the draft, 25th overall in 2020.
An extension would of course get him more than that. Marks estimated that a reasonable deal for both parties would be comparable to the four-year, $95 million extension the Hawks gave to De’Andre Hunter last October.
Wings like Hunter, it should be noted, are valued more than actual guards like the 6-foot-3 Quickley, according to Marks.
He is unlikely to get a deal comparable to what Tyler Herro (4 years, $130 million) or Jordan Poole from the Warriors (4 years, $140 million) received.
“He doesn’t get that,” Marks said. “There’s less work for Quickley than those guys.”
Quickley has shown how important he is to the Knicks over the past three months.
Since his role was expanded on Dec. 4, when coach Tom Thibdodeau cut his rotation to nine, the third-year guard has been sensational.
He averages 15.3 points, 3.2 assists, shooting 47 percent from the field and 38.8 from 3-point range.
The Knicks average 5.3 points better than teams when he’s on the floor and his plus-7.8 per 100 possessions.
They are 29-14 in that span.
He scored in double digits in 11 games in a row and 32 of 35 games.
However, his defense was even more impressive.
His overall defensive rating of 107.3 is the best of any Knicks in the rotation.
When he’s the primary defenseman, opponents shoot just 43.1 percent from the field, one of the best figures in the NBA.
The way the Knicks view Quickley has changed.
Early in the year, they were reportedly shopping him for change, but as his game started to improve, they opted to hold him at the trade deadline, and he has continued to thrive.
Now Leon Rose and Co. have to decide if it’s worth cutting into their future cap space by extending it, and how much they’re willing to pay to the homegrown player who’s developed so well this season.
“I think the next month and a half and the playoffs will determine whether the value of an extension outweighs prioritizing cap space,” Marks said.