Reports are circulating state that the New York Knicks are prepared to offer point guard and unrestricted free agent Fred VanVleet a deal worth upwards of $22 million per year. Is the current Toronto playmaker worth it for New York? I don’t think he is.
Why Fred VanVleet Is a Good Option
On paper, this signing seems like a no-brainer. Fred VanVleet is 26-years-old and is coming off a season where he averaged career bests. Since he entered the NBA, he’s improved each year in almost every facet of his game. This past season, he averaged 17.6 points and 6.6 assists per game for a contending Raptors team.
VanVleet went undrafted in 2016 but is now an NBA worthy point guard. There are many things to recommend him to the New York Knicks, who have no point guard depth. Dennis Smith Jr.? He’s terrible. Frank Ntilikina? He’s also awful. The Knicks need a proven winner on their train wreck of a roster if they have any hope of resurrecting the franchise.
Can The Knicks Afford Him?
For New York to sign VanVleet to the proposed contract, they’ll need to make some financial maneuvers. The Knicks are currently over the salary cap. Luckily for them, 35-year-old Taj Gibson and 32-year-old Wayne Ellington have team options entering free agency. Declining these two options with other contracts coming off the books, the Knicks would be about $27 million under the salary cap. There’s your cap room.
VanVleet to New York Is a Bad Idea
Fred VanVleet has continued to get better in the finely-tuned Toronto system. There’s little evidence to suggest he would be as good for any other team. In fact, he’s exactly the type of player who would be worse in another system.
The Knicks are a disaster. VanVleet can’t be the guy for them like he is for Toronto with a fantastic cast around him. Masai Ujiri said this week that resigning him to the Raptors is a priority. That means for the Knicks to sign the unrestricted VanVleet, they would have to overpay. Fred VanVleet is good, but he’s not $30 million a year good.
Plus, this free agency class is terrible. The Knicks should be smart and hold off on signing anyone for big money until after next season. Most of their current contracts will be up, and they’ll have tons of cap room to shape the team as they see fit. Of course, it’s the Knicks, so don’t expect them to do the smart thing.