USATSI

The New York Knicks can create more cap space than almost any other team in basketball this offseason. If they waive all of their partially guaranteed salaries, they’ll end up with around $50 million in space, and they appear ready to use it. They’ve been linked to every big name this offseason from Chris Paul to Fred VanVleet, and now, we can add another name to the list: Christian Wood. Ian Begley of SNY reports that at least one team expects the Knicks to pursue Wood this offseason, echoing a March report to that effect. 

The 25-year-old Wood only recently jumped to the top of the free-agent class. Undrafted in 2015, Wood has played for five teams. He got only the minimum from Detroit last season. But Blake Griffin’s absence gave Wood an opportunity to play, and he ran with it. In a limited sample as a starter, Wood averaged 21.9 points per game on ridiculous 56/40.8/73.4 shooting splits. 

That shooting makes him particularly appealing to a Knicks team that already has Mitchell Robinson entrenched as the center of the future. Neither Robinson nor fellow cornerstone RJ Barrett shoot particularly well from beyond the arc, so spacing the floor for them properly is paramount. New Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has worked with several shooting big men in the past. Karl-Anthony Towns is the most notable example, but in Chicago, Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer’s mid-range shooting represented spacing by the standard of that era. 

If the Knicks do indeed pursue Wood, that indicates that Julius Randle is no longer a big part of their future. That makes sense given his underwhelming debut season in New York. Randle was routinely criticized for monopolizing the offense, and his defense has never been consistent enough to warrant the contract he is currently playing under. Randle has only $4 million guaranteed for the 2021-22 season. 

Predicting a price point for Wood would be almost impossible. He only started 12 games last season. He was also a borderline star in those 12 games. Some have predicted a deal in the range of the mid-level exception. Others have pushed deeply into eight figures annually. Only time will tell, but if the Knicks want Wood, they have the money to pursue him. 

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