The New York Knicks are looking to upgrade their roster this offseason after stumbling to a 21-45 record in 2019-20. To that end, the team’s decision-makers and new head coach Tom Thibodeau may be targeting a former No. 2 overall pick to help shore up the club’s lackluster defense in Dallas Mavericks wing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
According to a report on Friday from the New York Post‘s league insider Marc Berman, the 27-year-old will be on the Knicks’ radar when free agency officially opens in the days following the November 18 NBA draft.
Per Berman, team president Leon Rose has designs on building a roster that caters to his head coach’s defensive mindset. During his years at the helm of the Chicago Bulls, as well as his time as Doc Rivers’ top assistant with the Boston Celtics, Thibodeau built a reputation for installing effective schemes defensively and inspiring his teams to suffocate the opposition. In that regard, Kidd-Gilchrist could be an ideal pick-up for the franchise.
Although he struggled in his initial transition to the professional game as a member of the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets, the former Kentucky Wildcats star has developed into one of the association’s better defenders over his eight years in the NBA. As tracked by NBA Stats, opponents scored just 99.3 points per 100 possessions when Kidd-Gilchrist was on the floor for the Mavs and Hornets in 2019-20. Moreover, players shot nearly 9 percentage points below their norms from three-point range when he was the closest defender.
The Post’s sources further indicated that New York sees the 6-foot-6-inch, 235-pound forward as a “solid locker room guy” and a smart player who wouldn’t have difficulty in picking up a new system ahead of the league’s rushed start date for training camps in early December.
Aside from his fit with the club from a basketball standpoint, the player nicknamed “MKG” by his peers may have other things working in his favor in relation to his potential targeting by the Knicks. For one, he played under new Knicks assistant Kenny Payne as a collegiate with the Wildcats; Payne spent a decade in Lexington as an assistant before jumping to the professional ranks earlier this year. Knicks senior VP William Wesley is close to the Kentucky program as well.
Additionally, MKG is represented by CAA, the same agency that Rose was running before he was tapped to become president of the Knicks.
Earlier this week, The Inquisitr relayed that perennial All-Star Chris Paul could be interested in a trade to New York after a surprisingly successful campaign with the Oklahoma City Thunder.