Recent New York Knicks rumors dive into potential free agents, as the team is targeting a potential reunion with Robin Lopez to be their backup center.
There have been a number of New York Knicks rumors circulating in recent days. With the 2019 NBA Draft now behind us, all of the attention in the basketball world has turned to free agency. What the orange and blue are going to do in free agency is anyone’s guess.
For a while, it looked like New York was going to make a splash. Its trade with the Dallas Mavericks prior to the NBA Trade Deadline, sending Kristaps Porzingis west along with Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke, was made to clear cap space to sign players this summer.
Sights were set on a pairing of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. However, things have changed drastically since the trade was made.
Durant suffered a ruptured Achilles during the NBA Finals, all but sidelining him for the 2019-20 season. Irving has reportedly turned his attention to the Brooklyn Nets. While those hopes seemed dashed, Adrian Wojnarowski and Romana Shelburne picked them right back up.
According to the duo at ESPN, Durant and reigning NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, have discussed teaming up, with the Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers serving as the potential landing spots.
While that outcome would make fans ecstatic, it should be taken with a grain of salt. Shortly after saying that, Wojnarowski went on television and said not to look into that report much.
Regardless of how things shake out, the Knicks are going to be spending money this offseason. With about $70 million in cap space, they are going to be signing players in the coming weeks. How they go about spending that money is anyone’s guess.
Whether they land top-flight free agents or not, they are going to need veterans to fill out their roster. One player to keep an eye on is Robin Lopez.
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According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Knicks have targeted Lopez as a potential backup center to Mitchell Robinson. Robinson, who broke through the second half of his rookie season, did well with DeAndre Jordan as a mentor, so bringing Lopez in makes a lot of sense.
New York needs depth at center and Lopez would fit the bill. This would be a reunion, as Lopez has already played in The Big Apple. He spent the 2015-16 season with the Knicks after signing a 4-year, $55 million deal in free agency, averaging 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks a game.
That was his lone season spent with the team, as he was traded to the Chicago Bulls as part of the Derrick Rose trade the following summer.
Lopez had a solid season in Chicago this past year, averaging 9.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks despite playing only 21.7 minutes per game. With a youth movement occurring in Chicago, Lopez saw his role fluctuate at times during the season, but he did not let that affect his play on the court negatively.
Once Lopez got into the starting lineup his final 33 games of the season, his production really picked up. As a starter, his numbers jumped up to 13.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.3 blocks per game.
While Lopez most likely wouldn’t be asked to start, it is good to know that he still has something left in the tank to help the team no matter the role he is asked to play.
The development of Robinson should be the No. 1 concern when scouring free agency for center options. Lopez also has experience working alongside younger big men. He did it with Anthony Daivs as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans, Porzingis on the Knicks and then Bobby Portis, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. on the Bulls.
Lopez won’t be the first player off the board when free agency begins, but he is still a solid contributor. If New York is able to land him as Robinson’s backup, it would be a good signing to help the immensely talented, albeit raw, second-year center.