As Day 2 of free agency continued it became apparent that, as he has since taking over as Knicks president, Leon Rose was going to remain patient.
He continued to regroup the team that reached the No. 4 seed in the East, adding Taj Gibson, who agreed in principle to a low-cost, one-year deal. And according to a source, the deal Rose and his front office orchestrated a day earlier with Derrick Rose actually was formulated to fit in his Early Bird Rights, allowing the Knicks to hold onto enough cap space to remain players in the free-agent market.
That calculation is important because the Knicks bolstered their lineup with Evan Fournier Monday but remain in the hunt for a starting point guard. Tuesday afternoon a handful still remained available even if the top stars already had found new contracts. Reggie Jackson and Dennis Schroder were still on the market with few suitors.
Kendrick Nunn (whose qualifying offer was pulled by the Heat, making him an unrestricted free agent) was a target, but ESPN reported that he turned down more money from the Knicks to join the Lakers and chase a championship ring.
In addition to Gibson’s return on a $2.7 million deal, the Knicks already had locked up Rose, Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks a day earlier, the four returning free agents adding to the six holdovers from last season. And there are two draft picks likely to make the roster, along with rookie Luca Vildoza if he is kept on his non-guaranteed deal and Fournier.
Gibson and Rose provided the Knicks with two players with a history with Tom Thibodeau, and perhaps the Knicks’ best hopes to compete next season rest in how much the other returning players have become "Thibodeau players."
Fournier certainly sounded Tuesday as if he wants to become one of those players. He is excited to join the Knicks.
"New York has been on my radar for a while now," Fournier said from Tokyo, where he is playing with the French Olympic team. "And I’m honestly extremely happy I’ll be there next year.
"The No. 1 thing was Thibodeau," Fournier said. "I love a coach like Thibs. Playing for coaches like [Thibodeau’s friend Steve Clifford] for a few years, I feel like I’m going to be very comfortable with him and his style of play.
"I enjoy the pressure. I enjoy the spotlight. They had a really good season. They had a spot open and I thought I could really help them. And yeah, it’s freakin’ New York. It’s fun. You want to be part of something big, have pressure. You want to be a guy that competes every night. I felt like New York was a great opportunity for me to live those big moments."