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New Center Option Emerges for Knicks

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The New York Knicks are just a few weeks away from what should be a hectic free agency.

New York’s top priorities are signing OG Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein, two major fixtures with the Knicks’ starting lineup. However, there are more needs to be filled, and the Knicks could look towards a three-time NBA champion for a potential solution in the frontcourt rotation.

The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami spoke recently on the “Warriors Plus Minus” podcast about Golden State’s possibility of releasing Kevon Looney ahead of free agency to save money off of their tax bill.

Looney, 28, has played all nine years of his career with the Warriors, the team that drafted him No. 30 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft. Looney has been a key piece to the Warriors dynasty, and he’s one of a handful of players to win three titles with the franchise.

Looney’s championship experience could be welcomed by the Knicks, who currently don’t have any NBA Finals appearances on the roster apart from Anunoby, who was part of the Toronto Raptors championship team in 2019 alongside Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry.

Looney’s box score stats don’t scream off the page, averaging 4.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game this past season in 74 appearances for the Warriors, but he’s never been a player that has made his biggest impact on paper. His rim protection abilities and defensive prowess have carried Looney throughout his career, and it’s a big reason why the Warriors have kept him on the roster since they drafted him nine years ago.

The biggest goal for the Knicks this offseason is to find depth, and Looney provides that. He has only missed eight games over the past three seasons, which is a good sign for the Knicks, who struggled mightily with injuries throughout this year.

The Knicks’ priority should be to keep Hartenstein, but that could mean the departure of Precious Achiuwa, who is a restricted free agent. Looney could be an ideal replacement for Achiuwa and allow the Knicks to play smaller lineups. New York could benefit from playing smaller lineups because they have majority of their talent in the backcourt.

Free agency begins on June 30.

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