The New York Knicks selected two young, energetic forwards in June’s NBA Draft, Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo. Early has signed with the team, but Antetokounmpo will not, at least for now, which is perfectly fine considering he is a little too raw for the NBA.
So if he is not ready, why do the Knicks need to hold on to him?
Antetokounmpo has three very important features which would make him a great asset for the long run: ideal role player (energy and athleticism while being easy to deal with in the locker room), low price-tag and a guy with a chip on his shoulder to prove to everyone he is good as his brother, who is an NBA star in the making. This means the player would give one hundred percent on the floor every night while training hard on off-days and ultimately leading by example. It would also be very cheap to keep him on the roster as a possible development project for years to come. If he doesn’t develop the way the team expects him to, well, they can just use him as a trade asset to fill in bigger contract disparities.
But if he hasn’t signed yet, what are the possibilities?
According to Seth Rosenthal of SBNation, there are two possibilities regarding his future with the team, and in the end it all depends on him going to training camp or not.
The Knicks can prevent him from going to training camp, keeping his draft rights and having him play for the Westchester Knicks. Last month he received a couple offers to play in Europe but decided to be close to the Madison Square Garden playing for the franchise’s D-League team. That would mean Antetokounmpo would still be a Knick but without a signed contract. Any roster opening could be his chance to make it into the NBA and only the Knicks would be allowed to sign him.
However, if he does attend training camp, that would mean the Knicks would be giving up his draft rights. It would be New York’s right to sign him first, but if he attends camp and does not sign with the team, any suitor could come in and make him an offer. Considering his potential for a role player, and as I said before, his low price tag and eagerness to make it, I think he would take that offer.
So here’s the ideal situation for both the player and the team, in my opinion: The Knicks do not take him to training camp, make him the new D-League team’s franchise player while holding on to his draft rights and giving him an opportunity when the roster opens up in the near future.
This would make the newly created D-League team a little more relevant, selling tickets and jerseys in the process, but most importantly this would mean the Knicks would have a great developing asset to work with. In return, when a roster opening pops up Antetokounmpo would finally have his opportunity to shine at the Madison Square Garden.