Quickley, who finished second in Sixth Man of the Year voting last season, will now enter the final year of his rookie deal. He will become a restricted free agent next summer, where he can leave the Knicks on the open market if he commands an offer sheet larger than Leon Rose and the front office are willing to match.
Quickley, who the Knicks selected 25th overall in the 2020 NBA Draft, has been a vital member of a team looking to build on a season where it took the Eastern Conference’s fifth seed then upset the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs.
Why didn’t a deal get done? Some important questions regarding the star guard’s future are answered below:
WHAT IS QUICKLEY’S CONTRACT VALUE?
Five recent contract extensions within the 2020 NBA Draft class have set the ballpark for salary expectations in Quickley’s next contract.
Vassell emerged as a franchise cornerstone in San Antonio and averaged 18.5 points on 38.7% three-point shooting with strong defensive instincts last season. McDaniels is viewed as a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate after a breakout year in Minnesota.
Vassell, Anthony and Green were selected ahead of Quickley, who the Knicks took 25th overall in 2020. Pritchard was selected at No. 26, and the Wolves drafted McDaniels with pick No. 28.
In total, 14 first-round picks inked extensions with their respective teams prior to Monday’s 6 p.m. deadline. Quickley and Philadelphia 76ers star guard Tyrese Maxey headline the list of restricted free agents to-be next summer. Others include Atlanta’s Saddiq Bey, Chicago’s Patrick Williams, former Knick Obi Toppin, and Toronto’s Precious Achuwa.
There’s also the Sixth Man market.
Jordan Clarkson is entering the final season of a four-year, $51.5 million deal. Reigning Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon is on a two-year, $45 million contract. Bucks sixth man Bobby Portis, who finished one spot behind Quickley in the award race, is on a four-year, $48.5 million deal, and the Lakers signed Austin Reaves to a four-year, $56 million deal.
Quickley, 24, is the youngest of those players.
WHY DIDN’T A DEAL GET DONE?
Quickley and his camp likely believe he can command more on the open market next summer than the Knicks are willing to commit to him right now.
It’s the business of basketball for the Knicks, who have a long-term vision built around Jalen Brunson as the starting point guard. If Brunson is playing the lion’s share of the minutes at Quickley’s position, there just aren’t enough minutes at the one left to justify paying a huge salary for a backup player.
Quickley, of course, isn’t your average backup player.
He was Sixth Man of the Year runner-up last season and could easily start for a number of teams, including three that have cap space to sign a marquee free agent next summer: the Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz.
Will the market, however, treat Quickley like a marquee player when he hits the open market next summer?
The Knicks guard averaged 14.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists on 37% shooting from three-point range last season. Those aren’t marquee numbers, but there are a number of examples of bench players thriving as No. 1 options after a change of scenery.
One: James Harden.
Two: Jordan Poole.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Quickley has to play the final year of his rookie deal without long-term financial security in case of injury. He also has a chance to add significant tax to whatever deal the Knicks put on the table.
So long as his play substantiates the claim.
Quickley has the option to test the market next summer, but he and the Knicks can come to an agreement before he signs a competing offer sheet following the conclusion of the NBA season.
The Knicks reserve the right to match any offer sheet Quickley signs next summer and can exceed the projected $142 million salary cap to re-sign their own free agents. If Quickley commands a deal in the Vassell or McDaniels ballpark with an average annual value of $27 million, the price point could be too high for the Knicks to be willing to pay for a reserve player.
The Knicks also have another route: a trade, either midseason ahead of the Feb. 8 NBA trade deadline or in free agency as a sign-and-trade to a destination Quickley approved in advance. The Knicks are included in rumors for every superstar player requests a trade and most notably have been linked to Joel Embiid’s status in Philadelphia. Quickley could be a piece, for example, to package with Evan Fournier’s $19 million expiring contract and substantial draft capital to make an offer for a player of Embiid’s caliber.
A trade is better than the worst-case scenario: Quickley signing an offer sheet with another team and leaving the Knicks for nothing in return.
There is also the qualifying offer: a one-year, $6.13 million deal that makes Quickley an unrestricted free agent in 2025. Rarely are qualifying offers accepted in the NBA.
WHAT IS THE TEAM SAYING?
Head coach Tom Thibodeau was hopeful an extension with Quickley would get done but also said he leaves those things to the front office.
“For me, I want all our guys to be taken care of,” he said after Monday’s practice in Tarrytown. “So his agent handles that. Leon’s gotta do what he has to do. Everyone has a job to do and a role to play. My hope is that we can find common ground somewhere. I’m a big Quickley guy.”
Brunson said Quickley hasn’t let his lack of an extension get in the way of his on-court work.
“Quick has been coming in every day to do his job. He’s had a great attitude [sic], and he’s mentally ready to go,” he said. “And that’s all you can ask of him. He’s been a true professional. I just know he’ll stay that way.”