Knicks face difficult decision to lock up Immanuel Quickley

Leon Rose and the Knicks could have no choice this summer. 

At this rate, they may have to extend Immanuel Quickley’s contract once he becomes eligible for a new deal on July 1, no matter what it does to their salary cap situation in the years to come. 

The third-year guard has performed that well at both ends of the floor.

He’s been that consistent over the last three months, that important to the streaking team’s success. 

The latest example came on the just-completed two-game road trip, when the Knicks pulled out thrilling victories over the Heat and Celtics to extend their NBA-high winning streak to nine games.

Quickley scored 21 points against the Heat and a career-high 38 points in 55 minutes against the Celtics while filling in for injured starter Jalen Brunson. 

“He’s a hard one. You want more of a body of work playing big minutes. [Sunday] night was beyond big minutes,” ESPN salary cap guru Bobby Marks, the former Nets executive, said in a phone interview. “But at the end of the day, where does he fall into the pecking order of Brunson, you still have [Julius] Randle, [RJ] Barrett’s contract hasn’t started yet, eventually [Quentin] Grimes. You want to prioritize cap space certainly in 2024. I think he’s a priority for New York, but I don’t think he’s a July 1 priority.” 

Immanuel Quickley dribbles to the basket during the Knicks' win over the Celtics on March 5.
Immanuel Quickley dribbles to the basket during the Knicks’ win over the Celtics on March 5.
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Some big names are set to hit free agency in 2024, such as Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown and Hawks guard Dejounte Murray.

Currently, the 23-year-old Quickley’s cap hold (the placeholder amount a player counts against the team’s salary cap until he either signs a new deal or has his rights renounced) for the 2024-25 season is $12.5 million, a figure that is tied to where he was selected in the draft, 25th overall in 2020.

An extension would obviously pay him more than that. Marks estimated that a reasonable deal for both parties would be similar to the four-year, $95 million extension the Hawks gave De’Andre Hunter last October. 

Wings such as Hunter, it should be noted, are valued more than true guards like the 6-foot-3 Quickley, according to Marks.

He is unlikely to get a deal similar to what Tyler Herro (4 years, $130 million) or the Warriors’ Jordan Poole (4 years, $140 million) received. 

“He’s not getting that,” Marks said. “There’s less of a body of work for Quickley than those guys.” 

Leon Rose
Leon Rose has myriad contracts to sort out this offseason.
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Quickley has shown over the last three months how important he is to the Knicks.

Since his role was expanded on Dec. 4, when coach Tom Thibdodeau cut his rotation down to nine, the third-year guard has been sensational.

He is averaging 15.3 points, 3.2 assists, shooting 47 percent from the field and 38.8 from 3-point range.

The Knicks, by average, are outscoring teams by 5.3 points when he is on the floor and are plus-7.8 per 100 possessions.

Immanuel Quickley celebrates during the Knicks' win over the Heat on March 3.
Immanuel Quickley celebrates during the Knicks’ win over the Heat on March 3.
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They are 29-14 in that span. 

He’s scored in double figures in 11 straight games and 32 of 35 contests.

His defense, though, has been even more impressive.

His overall 107.3 defensive rating is the best of any Knick in the rotation.

When he is the primary defender, opponents are shooting only 43.1 percent from the field, one of the best figures in the NBA. 

Immanuel Quickley
Immanuel Quickley could present a difficult decision for the Knicks.
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The way the Knicks view Quickley has changed.

Early in the year, they were reportedly shopping him for draft capital, but as his play began to pick up, they opted to hold onto him at the trade deadline, and he has further blossomed.

Now Leon Rose and Co. will have to decide if it is worth cutting into their future cap space by extending him, and how much they are willing to pay the homegrown player who has developed so nicely this season. 

“I think the next month and half and the playoffs will determine if the value of an extension outweighs prioritizing cap space,” Marks said.