Farewell, Obi...Hello, Dante
Goodbye and hi, a few hours apart.
Good EVENING! Yes, that’s right…it’s just after midnight and I’m sending out my third KFS Newsletter of the last 24 hours. A lot went down today, so why waste time getting to it.
On that note, a scheduling alert: Barring any significant news (NBA or Knicks related), the next letter you receive will be on Wednesday, July 5. Until then, everyone enjoy your BBQ’s.
I’ll be brief on this one today, with a deeper dive on Donte DiVincenzo coming soon (in addition to the deep dive I already wrote a few weeks ago, which is still very relevant).
In short, by signing their third Villanova Wildcat to the roster, this one to a four-year, $50 million deal that is slightly below the full non-taxpayer midlevel exception, the Knicks got better.
With the caveat that there may still be a move or moves on the horizon to further shake up the roster, there’s little doubt that DiVincenzo will play a key role on this team from the first time he puts on the uniform. As a shooter, passer and defender, he only adds to mix and takes little off the table. He can play in any lineup combination, but my guess is that we see him get ample run with both of his former college teammates.
Will the Knicks be a bit smaller, with Obi going out and no obvious backup power forward on the roster? Yes, although as I’ve noted, the Knicks appear comfortable playing Josh Hart as the backup power forward for the time being. We’ll see if it comes to that.
For now though, New York adds a valuable piece to their growing stockpile of good to very good NBA players. This may not be the move, but as a move, it’s another step in the right direction.
Odds & Ends
🏀 With Obi going out and DiVincenzo coming in, the Knicks are under the $165 million luxury tax by a few million bucks, but they are now hard capped at the first apron of $172 million because they used their midlevel exception. Their total salary cannot exceed that amount at any point this season.
🏀 On the Dame front, the Blazers and Heat are apparently trying to find a third team to take on (and presumably give good value for) Tyler Herro to help consummate this deal.
Good luck, fellas.
🏀 Other NBA happenings of note: Russ is back to LA on a two-year, $8 million deal with a player option…Dillon Brooks will soak up the majority of Houston’s remaining cap space on a four-year, $80 million contract that comes via a sign and trade with Memphis…Jalen McDaniels, perhaps the best unrestricted power forward left on the market, signed for two years and $9.3 million in Toronto…LaMelo inked his designated rookie max…Austin Reaves got the max amount he could to remain with the Lakers, at four years and $56 million…D’Angelo Russell is also back to LA for two years and $37 million (yeesh)…Patrick Beverly is going to Philly….and finally, crisis seemingly averted in Milwaukee, as Brook Lopez returns for two years at $48 million.
🏀 Other than several notable restricted free agents (PJ Washington, Grant Williams and Ayo Dosunmu among them), there’s slim pickings left on the unrestricted market, with Torrey Craig, Malik Beasley, Kelly Oubre Jr and Christian Wood really the only players of note remaining unsigned.
🏀 Finally, for those wondering, the Spurs still have $25.4 million in cap space remaining - enough to take on Evan Fournier’s contract should such a need arise.
Before sitting down to write this newsletter, I went back and re-read the pre-draft breakdown I wrote about Obi Toppin.
(This is not something I recommend doing, by the way. Go enjoy a hot dog instead.)
In total, I wrote just over 1800 words about why Toppin was such a divisive prospect, considering his incredible numbers, his age, his defensive limitations, his positional fit at the next level, and his ability to be the focal point of an NBA offense in the same way he was at Dayton. All of it seemed relevant to the front office’s decision on whether or not to make Obi the very first draft pick of their new regime.
And yet, it wasn’t until I got to the last 75 words of that column that I asked the most relevant question of all, one that was almost an afterthought to me at the time: How much of Toppin’s success depends on whether the Knicks move on from Julius Randle?
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