The Knicks will head to Charleston, South Carolina, for training camp on Monday, a throwback to the days when the franchise was a contender every season, battling with Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller. Perhaps the return after nearly two decades provides a hint of the expectations that the Knicks bring with them this season, bringing back nearly the same team that reached the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2022-23.
The storylines of summer have mostly been answered with a shrug. The roster is nearly identical. The staff is back in place (other than the video assistant, who headed to Toronto and precipitated a lawsuit). But they don’t head back to work without some things to resolve. Here are five question marks surrounding the Knicks:
1. The Quickley problem
Immanuel Quickley thrived last season, finishing second in the balloting for Sixth Man of the Year and serving as a two-way spark for the team. Quickley is eligible for a contract extension until the day before the season begins, and the Knicks will have to decide whether to invest heavily while his value is at its highest or to hold out and let him become a restricted free agent next season. The Knicks have shown that they are not opposed to paying for bench help. They signed Josh Hart to a four-year, $81 million extension this summer.
2. Minutes police, take your positions
This isn’t as much about Tom Thibodeau pushing his players through big minutes as it is how he finds minutes for all of the players at his disposal. With the arrival of Donte DiVincenzo and the departure of Obi Toppin, ending that constant source of consternation among the fan base, Thibodeau has another perimeter piece to go with Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, Quentin Grimes, Hart and Quickley. Do the math and it’s hard to figure out how someone isn’t losing playing time.
3. Speaking of playing time . . .
Evan Fournier would like to be included in the mix — or maybe even would prefer to be in some other team’s rotation. Fournier was certain that he wouldn’t be back for the final guaranteed year on his contract after he was nudged out of the rotation last season. He played the good soldier, and team sources indicated that he would be accommodated and released if the team could not work out a deal. But camp is starting and he’s still here. His contract remains a valuable chip, so until either the Knicks blink or they find a deal, he is stuck in career limbo.
4. Backup at the four
The Knicks will avoid some of the traffic problems of NYC by heading south for camp, but this backup is the one behind Julius Randle at power forward. In shedding Toppin, the Knicks gave up a 6-9 forward (not to mention leaping ability) and never added one this summer. Hart, at 6-4, took up some of the task last season. Barrett can provide minutes there, too, as the NBA veers away from power players at that position. Plus, Randle rarely sits anyway.
5. Are the Knicks actually calm?
While plenty of teams have been chaotic this summer, the Knicks didn’t have stars demanding trades or calling their executives liars. The team brings back nearly the same roster and the same staff. And with a year of experience in New York for Brunson, Grimes, Hart and company, they actually may benefit from continuity while teams around them try to acclimate to new coaches and new pieces.